It has been a long struggle. But finally advocates for quality child care and supporters of the Child Care Assistance Program have reason to be pleased.
Gov. Matt Bevin recently signed a new regulation governing disbursement of a $42 million block grant from the federal government that will help more families pay for child care and support the healthy development of children.
The program being funded is the backbone for hundreds of child-care centers in Kentucky. We have been losing hope for too many years as low reimbursement rates and high expenses forced many who were leaders in this industry out of business. Thanks to the governor and his talented administrative leaders, a new day has begun.
The infusion of federal dollars and the new state rules will create greater access for working families to establish long-term agreements with child-care centers and also allow foster parents access to CCAP. The changes will strengthen connections between child-care centers and the All STARS quality ratings and incentives to achieve documented improvements in the quality of child care centers. This emergency regulatory change, joined with the vast number of regulations already in place, will assure centers a greater ability to prepare children to do well in kindergarten and for later success and to teach them about healthy food choices and other healthful habits. The upgrades in CCAP assure Kentucky’s youngest citizens and their parents access to what they need.
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As a result of these changes, a single parent will be in a much better position to not only start employment but also to stay employed. The income threshold for re-certification has been increased dramatically; no longer will a small raise in wages disqualify a parent from being eligible for subsidized child care. This continuity of service will help children, working parents and employers. The workforce impact for our state’s employers will be significant. More than 27,000 children were participating in the program in September.
The governor’s action means thousands more parents, mostly single moms, will be able to seek work. It’s truly a win-win. There is no better way to generate new income for our state’s coffers than filling available jobs. Child Care Advocates of Kentucky have worked hard to gain the attention of elected officials. Bevin’s leadership and direction on this issue are spot on. We thank him.
Steve Magre is executive director and Brenda Bunner is president of Child Care Advocates of Kentucky based in Louisville.