Child Care Advocacy Partners

The A Fragile Ecosystem was released in partnership with United Way of Kentucky, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, Kentucky Youth Advocates, Child Care Advocates of Kentucky, Metro United Way, Learning Grove, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Appalachian Early Childhood Network, EC Learn, and Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C). This working group is committed to the success of children, families, and child care providers across Kentucky.

The results of our child care provider survey (May 2020) and the surveys of parents and families (July 2020 and January 2021) clearly show the need for greater financial support from Congress, and for a continued substantial, engaged planning with providers at the state level. Both are critical in ensuring that Kentucky’s child care infrastructure is sustained immediately and in the long term.

In partnership, we are happy to present to you the findings of our Kentucky Child Care Provider Survey and our Kentucky Parent Surveys. Please find full survey reports and findings below for each of the three surveys.

Survey Findings
A Fragile Ecosystem 1 - the state of child care in Kentucky following COVID-19 closures

More than 1,500 of the state's 2,172 providers participated in A Fragile Ecosystem I, the Kentucky Child Care Provider Survey.

It is our hope that these responses will help organizations and policymakers understand the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on the child care sector, as well as improve upon solutions at the federal, state and community level.

The impact of the pandemic on child care in Kentucky has already been extensive, and the system was already struggling to survive.

From affording rent and mortgage payments, to paying staff benefits, providers are concerned about many factors when it comes to re-opening.

Full Summary

Survey Questions

Survey Summary Results

Summary of Statistics:

  • The number of regulated providers in Kentucky dropped from 4,400 in 2013 to 2,400 in 2019. Survey results show 11-15% of remaining providers who responded may have to close permanently due to the financial impact of closing temporarily due to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • The majority (34%) of surveyed providers serve between 50-100 children at their centers. Approximately 52% of providers have between 5 and 20 employees. More than 1,500 of the state's 2,172 providers participated in the survey.

  • Approximately 66% of providers surveyed have laid off staff during the shutdown, and 67% of those employees are relying on unemployment insurance for income according to survey results.

  • The majority of providers responding did not apply to stimulus programs through the Small Business Administration (SBA) – either the Paycheck Protection Program (57%) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (70%).
  • Facility rent/mortgage and employee salaries have been the largest expenses for child care providers during the shutdown.
  • The chief concern of surveyed providers is the health and safety of children and staff when centers re-open.

Survey Findings
A Fragile Ecosystem II - Kentucky parents respond to the child care crisis following COVID-19

In July 2020, we surveyed more than 1,500 Kentucky parents and families to share their thoughts about child care and what’s next as Kentucky reopens the economy. Parents from 101 of Kentucky's 120 counties participated in the survey.



Parent Comments:

  • "I think our current child care facility is probably doing a good job of following CDC guidance, however, I’m still scared to send her there."
  • "I’m not sure there is anything they can do. Health and safety is our primary concern. Cases continue to spike across the country. Daycares are doing what they can, but social distancing is the only way I can control their exposure and therefore our exposure."
  • "All staff should wear masks, practice social distancing in school, and place children in small groups. Emphasis needed on hand washing and individual art supplies, significant outdoor activities."

Survey Questions

Survey Summary Results

Summary of Statistics:

  • Almost 30% of parents report struggling to find child care.

  • Half of parents report being moderately to extremely stressed about access to care.

  • 45% of parent are either unsure, will not or are delaying sending children back to same child care setting.

  • Of those not sending children back, 15% will be more comfortable between 3-12 months from now, while over 50% are unsure.

  • The largest concern for parents in sending kids back is health and safety of children and family members.

  • When asked what providers can do to make them feel more safe, majority of comments related to following proper health/safety guidelines, providing alternative schedules, and reduced class sizes. All of which cost money.

  • 92% of respondents said they support more government support to help providers meet new requirements/guidelines related to pandemic.

Full Summary

Survey Findings
A Fragile Ecosystem III - COVID-19’s continued impact on child care for Kentucky parents and families

In January 2021, more than 1,400 parents and families participated in A Fragile Ecosystem III. This survey provided a space for families to share the continued impact of the pandemic on child care and how advocates can best support families during this time.

Full Summary

Survey Questions

Survey Summary Results

Summary of Statistics:

  • 30% responded that their child care provider used prior to the pandemic is currently closed. While this is higher than the actual percentage of providers that have permanently or temporarily closed, it indicates that even if a provider is open, their capacity to serve families may still be dramatically less than prior to COVID-19.

  • Nearly all respondents support additional public investment at the state and federal level to support not only child care during the pandemic, but to help working families afford access to high-quality care.

  • 46% have quit jobs, declined jobs, or greatly changed their jobs due to issues with child care since March 2020.

  • Families have varying levels of concern and stress about child care access and sending children back into care during the pandemic. State and community leaders should consider what types of communication about the level of support for child care and its place in the public health plan could help alleviate some of these concerns.


Our Call to Action

State leaders must continue to focus on Kentucky’s own investments to sustain child care and support more families with access to high-quality, full-day care. The results of our previous child care surveys - and this most recent survey of parents and families - clearly demonstrate the struggles Kentucky communities face with child care, and both the need and demand for greater public investment at the state and federal level.

A healthy early childhood ecosystem is vitally important in creating a foundation for education in our youngest children. Quality child care programs also improve social and emotional growth, and enable their families to participate in the workforce. Moreover, child care providers are critical to the successful reopening of our schools. Many families of school age children rely on child care for critical services outside of normal school hours. The needs of child care providers and parents and families must be given the attention and resources they deserve – at the state and federal levels – as we begin to re-open the Commonwealth.

Child care is too important to the education of our young children, their health and well-being, and families’ ability to work. As state policy leaders continue through the 2021 legislative session, we call on General Assembly and Governor to immediately invest in increased child care assistance reimbursement rates and incentives for serving infants, toddlers & young children in high-quality center and home-based child care that begins to chart a sustainable path toward increasing eligibility for assistance to 200% of the federal poverty level. The success of Kentucky’s children, families, and economy deserve nothing less.

And while we remain grateful for the federal stimulus support for child care so far, we continue our call for Congress to provide additional assistance to child care as part of future federal stimulus efforts – up to the estimated $50 billion necessary to ensure the sustainability of the child care system. The support must be robust and flexible, allowing states like Kentucky to support operating costs, co-pays and tuition based on enrollment, training and professional development, facility maintenance and cleaning.

Panel Discussion

On Monday, June 8th at 3:00 p.m. EST we hosted an online broadcast of “A Fragile Ecosystem - The state of childcare in Kentucky following COVID-19 closures.” The event detailed the results of the child care provider survey conducted by the Prichard Committee, United Way of Kentucky, Kentucky Youth Advocates, Child Care Advocates of Kentucky, Metro United Way, Learning Grove, and United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

The panel discussion included Kevin Middleton, United Way of Kentucky; Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Prichard Committee; Ashli Watts, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Terry Brooks, Kentucky Youth Advocates; Sarah Vanover, Division of Child Care; Amy Neal, Governor's Office of Early Childhood; and Bridget Yates, Cornerstone Child Development Center.


Watch the recording of the event here!

For inquiries on this child care project, email us by clicking here.

To contact one of the partners, click on the individual organizations below.

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