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Quality child care in Kentucky receives a boost!

December 14, 2015

KY Child Care Increase

Child care providers in Kentucky received welcome news last week when now former Gov. Steve Beshear announced a $15 million increase in funds to strengthen child care for low-income working parents in Kentucky over the next two years.

“This is a huge win for children, parents, child care providers and the overall quality of child care in Kentucky,” says Julie Witten, director of Kentucky services for 4C for Children. “This is a result, in part, to the advocacy efforts of 4C for Children and our community partners to help create a robust system of child care assistance for Kentucky families,” she continues. “And, in turn, families across the state are being impacted in positive ways.”

Effective Jan. 1, 2016, the new legislation will increase reimbursement rates for child care providers participating in Kentucky’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) by 5 percent.

“This legislation strengthens the CCAP to better equip child care programs with more financial resources to supply quality early education to the state’s children,” Witten says.

CCAP provides access to child care for eligible (150 percent of the federal poverty level) Kentucky parents who work or participate in education and training programs. CCAP rates were frozen in 2006 and were cut drastically in 2013 causing many parents to leave employment in order to care for their children. This also led to the closing of many child care facilities.

The cuts were restored in 2014 thanks, Witten says, to advocacy efforts of 4C and community partners. But enrollment has not reached pre-2013 levels for a variety of reasons: families have dropped out of the program or made other child care arrangements; school districts are offering expanded preschool programs; federal Head Start programs have expanded in the state.

Because of the lower than expected enrollment in CCAP, the program found $15 million to fund this rate increase over the next two years. This means no additional funds will be required through fiscal year 2018.

Providers who now receive an average of $10.23 a day in reimbursement will see an increase of approximately $1 per child per day. Those providers with a two-star rating or higher in STARS, the state’s quality rating and improvement system, will qualify for additional rate increases.

The governor’s action targets approximately 24,000 children who qualify for the program and the 1,570 child care providers where they are enrolled.

While there is still much work to be done to ensure quality child care continues to available and affordable, Witten describes the long-term ripple effect of this legislation: “This vital program enables parents to keep their jobs and have piece of mind while their children are cared for in regulated child care settings. In turn, child care centers, many of which operate as small businesses, can continue to improve so more Kentucky children will receive quality early education experiences which, research shows, will impact their future success in school and life. And their success now will help create a more educated, successful Kentucky population. And that benefits everyone.”

UPDATE (Feb. 3, 2016): This legislation unfortunately wasn't filed with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services prior to Kentucky’s new governor, Matt Bevin, taking office. The new regulations therefore are not valid according to a letter issued by the Legislative Research Commission, which is responsible for accepting such regulations. 4C and other advocates will continue working to move this legislation forward.

UPDATE (March 3, 2016): On March 2, the Cabinet for Health & Family Services published new reimbursement rates for Kentucky child care providers. Kentucky's Voice for Early Childhood and their partner advocates, including 4C for Children, made the request to the Bevin administration and this announcement is the result. As a result of this legislation, rates are approximately $1 more per day, per child, beginning Feb. 1, 2016.