Child care centers say provide help or many may close

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – According to a recent survey of Kentucky’s 2,172 child care providers, as many as 15 percent who responded may have to close permanently due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis if federal aid is not increased.

“This threat could break an already fragile child care ecosystem that lost nearly half of its providers from 2013 to 2019,” said Prichard Committee President and CEO Brigitte Blom Ramsey. “We are calling for Congress to provide $50 billion in assistance to child care as part of the federal stimulus efforts.”

A partnership of Kentucky-based organizations, United Way of Kentucky, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, Kentucky Youth Advocates, Child Care Advocates of Kentucky, Metro United Way, Learning Grove, and United Way of Greater Cincinnati, released a report Monday, June 8, that included the survey results. The report is available for download at childcarekentucky.com.

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“The results of our child care provider survey clearly show the need for greater financial support from Congress, and for a continued substantial, engaged planning with providers at the state level,” said United Way of Kentucky President Kevin Middleton. “Both are critical in ensuring that Kentucky’s child care infrastructure is sustained immediately and in the long term.”

More than 1,500 of the state’s 2,172 providers from 106 of Kentucky’s 120 counties participated in the survey. Survey findings include:

— The majority (34%) of surveyed providers serve between 50-100 children at their centers.

— Approximately 52% of providers have between 5 and 20 employees.

— Approximately 66% of providers surveyed have laid off staff during the shutdown, and 67% of those employees are relying on unemployment insurance for income according to survey results.

— The majority of providers responding did not apply to stimulus programs through the Small Business Administration (SBA) – either the Paycheck Protection Program (57%) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (70%).

— Facility rent/mortgage and employee salaries have been the largest expenses for child care providers during the shutdown.

— The chief concern of surveyed providers is the health and safety of children and staff when centers re-open.

“Through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents, advocates, and leaders alike have seen and heard and experienced the critical role of quality child care for families and the economy,” said Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates. “As Kentucky reopens and parents prepare to go back to a more normal routine, many are now faced with identifying safe, affordable child care options. Continued federal and state investment in the infrastructure of the child care sector would allow kids to have quality early learning opportunities, parents to have safer care options as they go to work, and the economy to begin to rebuild.”