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Survey: Childcare issues leading Kentucky parents to change jobs

LEXINGTON, Ky. – In a 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. An overwhelming majority of survey respondents – 92% – also support more public investment in the state’s fragile childcare ecosystem.

“Since May, the Prichard Committee and our partners have been gathering information about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on childcare providers, parents and families,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, president and CEO of the Prichard Committee. “The data in our most recent survey underscores the dire need for public investment in early childhood to ensure our littlest learners get a strong start ahead of kindergarten, and that parents have safe, appropriate options for childcare so they can return to the workforce.”

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence released the survey results Thursday, along with the following partners: 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 EC Learn.

“Access to quality childcare impacts so many aspects of a family’s life, from parents’ ability to work to monthly budgeting to critical early learning opportunities for their children. This survey tells us that throughout the pandemic, families have had to dip into savings, accrue debt, or reduce overall spending to afford childcare expenses. It clearly communicates to advocates and leaders that in order to allow parents to re-enter the workforce and stabilize their finances, we must stabilize the childcare sector,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

The Prichard Committee and its partners are asking the Kentucky General Assembly to immediately invest in increased childcare assistance reimbursement rates and incentives for serving infants, toddlers and young children in high-quality center and home-based childcare.

“State leaders must continue to focus on Kentucky’s own investments to sustain child care and support more families with access to high-quality, full-day care, that puts us on a sustainable path toward increasing eligibility for assistance to 200% of the federal poverty level.” said Kevin Middleton, president of United Way of Kentucky. “The success of Kentucky’s children, families, and economy deserve nothing less.”

Survey results show that families have varying levels of concern and stress about childcare access and sending children back into care during the pandemic, with nearly 37% saying they are most concerned about the learning their children are missing out on.

“Quality childcare programs also improve social and emotional growth, and enable their families to participate in the workforce,” said Cori Gadansky, executive director of Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C). “The needs of childcare 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 Prichard Committee and partners continue to call on Congress to provide additional assistance to child care as part of future federal stimulus efforts – up to the estimated $50 billion necessary to ensure the sustainability of the child care systemNearly one year into the pandemic, Kentucky’s federal delegation has worked to secure much needed resources for childcare, however additional support will be necessary, as Kentucky families return to work and school and child care provider deal with continued uncertainty due to the pandemic.

“The support must be robust and flexible, allowing states like Kentucky to support operating costs, co-pays and tuition based on enrollment, training and professional development, facility maintenance and cleaning,” said Becky Stacy of the Appalachian Early Childhood Network.

Download the survey report on the Prichard Committee’s website.