Groups urge state to move child care providers up vaccine priority list

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The United Way of Kentucky published a sign-on letter asking Governor Andy Beshear and the Cabinet to prioritize Kentucky’s child care workforce in Phase 1b of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, allowing simultaneous access with K-12 personnel.

When asked about the change last week, Beshear said state health officials are looking at ways to make that change, but much of it depends on getting more vaccines available in the state. But he stressed the state understands the importance and value of child care providers.

Twenty organizations across the state joined the letter including local United Ways, early childhood partners, and local Chambers of Commerce:

Cumberland Trails United Way

Metro United Way

Tri-County Kentucky United Way

United Way of the Bluegrass

United Way of Eastern Kentucky

United Way of Greater Cincinnati

United Way of Kentucky

United Way of Mason County

United Way of the Ohio Valley

United Way of Paducah-McCracken County

United Way of South Central Kentucky

United Way of Southeastern Kentucky

Greater Louisville Inc.

Appalachian Early Childhood Network

Child Care Advocates of Kentucky

Child Care Council of Kentucky, Inc.

Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C)

EC Learn

Learning Grove

Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

In the letter to Deputy Commissioner of Public health Dr. Connie White, the groups said:

Dear Deputy Secretary White,
Thank you for your continued leadership and dedication to keep Kentuckians safe and healthy. United Way of Kentucky, local Kentucky United Ways, and our early childhood partners support the essential work of the child care sector in caring for our children and keeping our economy running.

We write asking Governor Beshear and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to prioritize Kentucky’s child care workforce in Phase 1b of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, allowing simultaneous access with K-12 personnel.

Prioritizing the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations for the early childhood sector will be critical to stabilizing staffing for these essential programs, reducing community spread and protecting the thousands of young children and families who depend on early childhood programs and services.

Kentucky parents and caregivers cannot work without our frontline child care professionals.
Hundreds of Kentucky child care and early learning programs have reported that they have had to close when employees, children, or family members quarantined due to exposure or contraction of COVID-19.

As of December 2020, more than 600 child care centers have reported COVID-19 cases – centers who have continued to stay open and serve their communities for the duration of the pandemic. This frontline reality negatively impacts the health of staff, children and their families, disrupts a family’s ability to participate fully in the workforce and contributes to the stability of the child care business itself to continue to provide safe care and education to families during this pandemic and throughout the recovery.

Child care programs have been further challenged during this time to recruit and maintain adequate staff to support the demand for child care in local communities in part because of the increased risk of COVID19 exposure. Early access to vaccines for child care staff will help programs stabilize staffing and reduce the need to close classrooms and programs when individuals are quarantined and match the demand for child care as parents and caregivers continue to return to the workforce.

Thank you for your consideration of our urgent request to include the child care sector in the Phase 1b priority group alongside K-12 personnel.
Respectfully, in partnership,
Kevin T. Middleton, President
United Way of Kentucky

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