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What the Bluegrass State Can Teach Us About Increasing Access to Child Care


Kentucky made headlines recently for increasing access to early care and education (ECE): a unique strategy helps parents who work in ECE programs access subsidies for their own child care needs. Last year, Kentucky enacted a change in the state subsidy system, the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Under the updated statute, any employee working 20 hours or more per week in a licensed child care center or certified family child care (FCC) home is eligible for a child care subsidy, regardless of their household income. The program offers much-needed care at a far lower cost for all eligible parents who work in early care and education, not only teachers, but also cooks, janitors, and other staff members.

One year later, 3,200 parents employed in early care and education and 5,600 children now benefit from the program, according to Andrea Day at the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. This child care benefit can stabilize employment and reduce turnover in the ECE workforce. Countless studies have demonstrated the link between low wages in ECE and turnover. Kentucky’s model puts money back in the pockets of parents who work in the child care system but might otherwise be paying $8,525 for a four-year-old or $9,685 for an infant each year for center-based care.


Source: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (2023). What the Bluegrass State Can Teach Us About Increasing Access to Child Care.