Kentucky is one of many states that operate a child care assistance program, which reimburses child care providers who accept children from low-income families. But the program is vastly underfunded, putting a strain on not only child care providers – who aren’t receiving enough to cover their services, causing many to close – but also parents, many who don’t qualify for assistance because eligibility is too restrictive.
One such facility is the New Beginnings Development Center in Hazard, whose story is told in the video below. While New Beginnings is still in operation, many child care centers in surrounding counties have closed due to the low funding for the program.
According to the annual child care report recently released by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), Kentucky still has the ninth lowest eligibility cap for child care assistance in the country. Currently, assistance is limited to those with incomes below 150 percent of the 2011 federal poverty level, or only $27,795 for a family of three. The state has the 13th highest co-pays in the country and the $24 a day per child reimbursement rate hasn’t been updated since 2006.
The child care assistance program is vital for working families who are already struggling to make ends meet. Educating and caring for our children is key to growing thriving communities.