The child care system and its workers are essential
Learning Through COVID:The child care system and its workers are essential
The child care ecosystem in Kentucky was already fragile before the pandemic. According to the Kentucky Division of Child Care, the number of regulated providers in Kentucky dropped from 4,400 in 2013 to 2,172 in 2020, leaving 165,315 slots available for children at 1,817 child care centers across the state. Of those open slots, just 28,000 children qualified for care using CCAP funds in a state where 55 percent of kids live above the federal poverty level.
In March 2020, more than 1,500 of the state’s child care providers participated in our survey that found:
- 66% of the staff at those centers had been laid off.
- 15% thought they would not be able to re-open, despite federal and state aid.
In our January 2021 survey of more than 1,400 Kentucky families, more than 45% of respondents indicated that they have had to change job status due to childcare issues caused by the pandemic.
“A healthy early childhood ecosystem is vitally important in creating a foundation for education in our youngest children,” said our President & CEO Brigitte Blom Ramsey. “Quality child care programs also improve social and emotional growth, and enable their families to participate in the workforce. The needs of child care providers and parents and families must be given the attention and resources they deserve – at the state and federal levels – as we begin to re-open the Commonwealth.”
The biggest takeaway from that January survey was that nearly all respondents support additional public investment at the state and federal level to support not only child care during the pandemic, but to help working families afford access to high-quality care.
KY BEST PRACTICE
Federal financial support and state recognition of child care workers as ‘essential’ have been bright spots
In June 2020, child care facilities began reopening, however many of them had lost staff through the lay-off period. Some, unable to sustain facility mortgages and rentals, and staff payments through the shutdown, were closed for good.