Childcare providers testified in front of the Program Review and Investigations Committee on Thursday about the struggles they have experienced throughout the pandemic as they had to fully shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the childcare providers noted many surrounding states kept their child care facilities open in some capacity while Kentucky completely shut down childcare facilities besides some catering to front line workers responding to the pandemic. They also stated the restrictions put in place by the administration for reopening starting next week will cause childcare facilities to lose spots and bring in less revenue and continue to struggle financially.
Enrollment is typically high in July and many childcare center owners expressed frustrations that places like Walmart and amusement parks are allowed to operate while their facilities are losing money having to keep kids in groups of 10 or less.
They also noted that staffing will have to be increased to deal with the new restrictions and regulations put in place for reopening while they serve less children in their communities.
Childcare providers said to deal with the financial losses they continue to face, they would like to see some help come from the state as many who have received federal loans are seeing those funds run out and the restrictions will result in more lost revenue.
As for reopening, some of the providers said they called the families that attend their facilities to see who wanted to come back and once those spots filled up (10 children for one staff member) then they had to put everyone else on a waitlist and those families are now in limbo.
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ashli Watts testified in front of the committee and stated childcare has consistently been a major barrier for qualified workers in Kentucky that has now become even more complicated as a result of the pandemic.
Watts discussed the importance of early childhood education for all aspects of Kentucky’s economy as well as ensuring Kentucky’s working parents are able to get back to work in light of the pandemic.
Recent surveys show 89% of childcare centers are expected to permanently close nationally and 42% of Kentucky centers expect to have to close their doors which would leave 56,000 children without quality childcare, Watts said.
To help with this, Watts stated the business community would like to see aid provided to childcare providers to ensure investment in the workforce of today and of tomorrow.