Kentucky lays out plan for child care funding

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Division of Child Care Services has released a plan to help day cares in the state stay afloat.

Later this month, the state may start allocating almost 200 million in federal dollars to try to help the critical child care industry.

“I think what the state is saying with this is help is on the way,” Dustin Pugel said, senior researcher with the Kentucky Center of Economic Policy.

The bulk of it, 165 million, will go toward giving centers more than one-thousand dollars per child.

“It’s a really helpful step right now when a lot of parents are keeping their kids home, when it’s hard to find workers, ya know, when it’s generally more difficult than usual to run a child care center,” Pugel said.

Another chunk, 20 million, will waive co-pays for parents using CCAP, the Child Care Assistance Program.

“I think that will really help free up some family resources so they can continue to keep food on the table and keep the lights on,” Pugel said.

While he said the plan is a great way to get Kentuckians back on their feet, Pugel knows the majority of it will be temporary – only lasting as long as the federal money does.

Now, he’s looking for the General Assembly to make more permanent change in CCAP.

“It caps the income eligibility limit for parents far too low, so right now it’s at 160% percent of the poverty level, and a lot of advocates, myself included, are saying it really should be close to double to poverty level because that’s when you hit the working poor families,” Pugel said.

He says the most a two parent household, family of 4, can make and still be eligible is about 40-thousand dollars.

“It’s about $1,200 a month for child care for a little one like mine, so $1,200 out of pocket for a family who’s earning $40,000 a year, that’s well over $12,000 of their annual income,” Pugel said.

And that’s only one child.

Pugel says there’s been talk in the General Assembly of raising the eligibility threshold to 200-percent. He said he hopes 2021 is the year to do it since it’s a budget year and the state is projected to have more money than expected.

“I think what we’re learning, or what we have learned over the past several months, is how badly needed it is,” Pugel said.

The legislature has not yet begun discussing the proposal.

The Kentucky Division of Child Care Services’ plan is below:

Kentucky anticipates being awarded $192,572,592 in child care aid.  The funding has not yet arrived in Kentucky, but as soon as it arrives, DCC will begin dispersing it.

This is the current spending plan for the Coronavirus Aid Package

  • $165 Million dedicated to sustainment payment funding for regulated child care providers (licensed, certified, and registered providers).

o   All payments to licensed and certified child care providers will be based on capacity.  All payments to registered child care providers will be based on enrollment.

o   The first payment will be $300/per child, and the following three payments will be $260/child and follow in two month intervals.

o   In order to qualify for the sustainment payments, the child care provider must be in the DRCC database by January 1st, 2021 to qualify for the sustainment funding.

o   The completed contract must be signed and returned to the Division of Child Care by February 28th, 2021.

o   Child care providers must spend funds by June 30th, 2022.

o   The contract for payments will be cross-referenced again the DRCC database before each subsequent payment to make sure that the child care program is still open.

o   Child care programs that are voluntarily operating virtually will not qualify for the funding.  In order to receive the funding, child care programs must be offering face-to-face child care.  The only exception is if the local health department temporarily requires the child care program to close in order to quarantine staff and children that have been exposed to COVID-19.

o   Child care programs shall use portions of this funding for staff salaries.  This may include salary increases or hazard pay for providers working during the KY State of Emergency.

o   Funding can also be used for fixed expenses (like rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance premiums, PPE, cleaning supplies, and food).

o   Child care programs must keep receipts on site for five years in the event of audit.

  • $3 Million to KARES background check system to pay for fingerprint background checks for child care providers once the fingerprint sites re-open.
  • $4.5 Million in Training and Technical Assistance:

o   $3,000,000 will be dedicated to CPR, First Aid, Epi Pen, and Blood Borne Pathogen training for child care providers throughout the state.  The Division of Child Care will utilize “approved training agencies” as stated in 922 KAR 2:240.  Mini-grants will be awarded to “approved training agencies” to pay for the trainers as well as certification for child care providers.

o   $1,500,000 will be dedicated resiliency and trauma-informed care training.  The Division of Child Care will contract with the Early Childhood Mental Health Specialists in the Department of Public Health.  The ECMHS team will utilize “provider cafes” in a virtual setting to help child care providers debrief on their own trauma throughout the pandemic.  The ECMHS team will also provide training to child care providers on how to support children who are experiencing trauma.

  • $20 Million dedicated to paying parent co-pays for children in the Child Care Assistance Program beginning on February 1stand lasting as funding allows.

Along with the federal aid funding, DCC will also be putting some additional supports into place for child care providers.

  • The Division of Child Care can extend CCAP payment on “enrollment vs attendance” for January through March 2021 in order to assist programs that have had limited capacity during the pandemic.  The Cabinet for Health and Family Services will re-evaluate on a quarterly basis to review the availability of funding.

Family Child Care Network

  • The Division of Child Care will establish a permanent Family Child Care Network with a regional office in each of the 8 DCC regions across the state.  These regional offices will be local training and support agencies that are already established in the child care community.  They will be selected through the DCC contract vendor.
  • Each regional family child care network would be responsible for these objectives:

o   Being the liaison between community businesses and child care programs attempting to establish the child care network model as an employee benefit for the business.

o   Supporting family child care homes with business needs like tuition billing, compliance with the Child and Adult Federal Food Program, and tax preparation.

o   Technical assistance for registered providers in the provider’s home or in the home of the family.

o   Recruitment of registered child care providers, including outreach to Kinship Care and Fictive Kin providers to become part of the registered provider system.

o   Recruitment of certified child care homes.

o   Technical assistance for certified family child care homes in the provider’s home.

o   Creating training specifically targeted at family child care providers.

o   Providing networking opportunities and resources for family child care homes.

These additional supports should help provide necessary child care for families throughout the Commonwealth and give additional financial resources to child care programs in order to best serve Kentucky families.

The Division of Child Care will send out additional information as soon as the federal aid dollars arrive in Kentucky.

DCC asks that providers notify families that they will not be responsible for CCAP co-pays beginning TODAY, on February 1st.  Also, child care providers can begin billing based on enrollment when they bill the Division of Child Care for the month of January.

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