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Child advocacy groups put spotlight on need to sustain childcare services

Stu Johnson
Prichard Committee President-CEO Brigitte Blom

A number of Kentucky organizations are working to develop ways to sustain childcare before federal coronavirus support runs out. Prichard Committee, Kentucky Youth Advocates, and United Way chapter representatives participated in a news conference Thursday. Prichard Committee President Brigitte Blom said, quote, “a strong Kentucky workforce and economy depend on childcare access and quality for working families.”

“Today over 45 thousand Kentuckians struggle to attach to the workforce or education to move themselves forward due to a lack of childcare and early education access and affordability,” said Blom.

The new report stated more than half of childcare providers surveyed do not feel fully staffed. It also talks about the establishment of public preschools within the private childcare setting.

Some of those funds will stop coming to childcare providers next fall and other dollars the following year. A fourth report includes survey results from 500 providers. Mandy Simpson is with Metro United Way. She said a dire workforce shortage in childcare is a primary concern.

“Without these vital staff childcare providers are forced to reduce enrollment, to close entire classrooms, to shorten hours, just to make sure that they can continue to operate in safe and effective ways,” said Simpson.

Brigitte Blom said $330 million per year could support establishing such a public-private partnership.

Western Kentucky Senator Danny Carrol, who co-chairs the early childhood education task force, said thinking outside the box could include having childcare services held in nursing homes.

Leitchfield Representative Samara Heavrin said more businesses need to be encouraged to offer childcare as a benefit, much like health insurance or leave time.

Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 30 years.
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