Jessamine County

State to close 3 day-care centers

Day-care centers at three state nursing homes for veterans, including the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore, will close Sept. 19 as the result of budget cuts.

The day-care centers tend to children of employees at the veterans centers in Wilmore, Hazard and Hanson, near Madisonville in Western Kentucky. The day-care cuts will not affect medical care to veterans at the centers.

The closings were necessary to meet a 4.5 percent budget cut, or more than $500,000, said Ancil Harbin, administrative branch manager of the Office of Kentucky Veterans Centers.

“We've been running a deficit for a long time, and to make these kinds of cuts is really the only avenue we've got to make any significant leeway in our budget,” Harbin said Monday.

The closings affect seven employees and 37 children enrolled in day care at Thomson-Hood Veterans Center in Wilmore; seven employees and 42 children at Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center in Hazard; and eight employees and 44 children at the Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson. The Wilmore center opened in 1991 and the other centers opened in 2002.

Most affected employees should be able to find positions elsewhere in the veterans centers or elsewhere in state government, Harbin said.

State Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, learned of the closings last week from state officials.

“Their argument is that no other state agency has day-care facilities provided for staff,” Damron said.

State officials told Damron that the priority has to be medical care for the patients in the veterans nursing homes.

Harbin could not say how the cuts will affect recruitment or staff retention. One of the advantages for employees was to have child care at their workplace.

“It's always tough to recruit nurse aides and keep them,” Harbin said. “The recruitment issues with licensed staff could be an issue.”