Parents stressed about child care, groups push for federal support

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Courtesy the Prichard Committee

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A recent survey of Kentucky parents and families found nearly 30% of respondents are struggling to find child care following the end of mandated closures in June due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Additionally, more than half of the 1,570 survey respondents reported being moderately to extremely stressed about sending their child back to child care.

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The Prichard Committee, along with other national and state partners, have asked Congress for $50 billion in federal stimulus funding for child care.

Preliminary estimates show Kentucky’s share of $50 billion could be approximately $958 million.

This would invest in care for the children of essential workers, support for providers with significant costs related to re-opening and re-hiring, and help ensure that a robust child care system is sustainable coming out of our national emergency, according to the Prichard Committee which released the report.

“Kentucky’s childcare ecosystem was already in a fragile state of existence prior to the pandemic. Now, following the permanent closures of some child care providers, on top of the loss of nearly half from 2013 to 2019, Kentucky parents are now facing even tougher choices when it comes to their children’s care,” said Prichard Committee President and CEO Brigitte Blom Ramsey. “It is imperative for both our families and our economy that Congress provide assistance to Kentucky’s child care system as part of the federal stimulus efforts.”

The Kentucky Child Care Parent and Family Survey was conducted in partnership with the following organizations: the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, Kentucky Youth Advocates, Metro United Way, United Way of Kentucky, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Learning Grove, Child Care Advocates of Kentucky, Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C), Appalachian Early Childhood Network, and the Child Care Council of Kentucky.

The report included the following survey results.

  • 45% of parent are either unsure, will not or are delaying sending children back to same child care setting they attended before the pandemic.
  • Of those not sending children back, 15% will be more comfortable between 3 and 12 months from now, while over 50% remain unsure about their children’s future in child care.
  • The largest concern for parents in sending kids back is the health and safety of children and their family members.
  • Over 70% of respondents reported having school-age children as well – underscoring the critical role child care plays in out-of-school care and education, and will be necessary as school districts choose between alternatives for restarting school.
  • 92% of respondents said they support more government support to help providers meet new requirements/guidelines related to pandemic.

When asked what child care providers can do to make them feel better about returning their children to child care facilities, overall comments exhibited the amount of uncertainty parents and families are feeling. Many parents and families emphasized adherence to CDC and state health/safety guidelines, while some also indicated smaller class sizes, alternative scheduling and better communications would be necessary, the report sponsors said.

“Parents’ health and safety concerns are valid and must be considered. Yet, all of these options require money that these centers, which typically operate on shoestring budgets as small businesses, simply do not have,” said Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates. “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.”

Download the report at prichardcommittee.org.