A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

United Way business, community partners present strong new poll support for child care, pre-K funding

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

United Way of Greater Cincinnati and the Prichard Committee for Education Excellence gathered an impressive cadre of panelists and a full house of community leaders to hear the results of a new poll showing that access to high-quality child care is essential for parents to be able to work.

Each speaker emphasized Kentucky’s terrific need to draw people into the workforce — and said that a major barrier between workers and jobs is often the affordability of quality child care.

Held at the Northern Kentucky Scholar House in Newport, the wake-up call to the community was led by retired Duke Energy executive Chuck Session who is now an Executive in Residence at United Way.

Chuck Session, Executive in Residence, United Way, addresses the importance of quality child care and workforce development. (Photos by Judy Clabes/NKyTribune)

United Way in collaboration with the Prichard Committee commissioned a survey that showed over 90% of both parents and registered voters agree that access to high quality child care is essential for parents to be able to work. The majority of respondents also said Kentucky needs to do more to assure affordable access.

Other poll results:

• 72% support investing more taxpayer money to increase access;

• 1/3 of parents say their job status has changed due to child care issues;

• 54% said they have struggled to find child care, especially for younger children;

• Significant majorities across all categories — party, parents, voters — say they are more likely to support a candidate who supports affordable, high-quality child care programs;

• Super-majorities believe it’s important to support high quality pre-K programs and private child care; and

• Overwhelming margins — across all categories — support more taxpayer money to increase high quality child care programs.

Brigette Blom, president and CEO of the Prichard Committee, said child care is the “primary roadblock to workforce participation” and the crisis is particularly acute for young working families.

“We must start today,” she said, “to adequately support a workforce that drives a thriving economy — and that gets ‘little learners’ off to a good start.”

Brighton Center’s Wonda Winkler hosted the event at the Northern Kentucky Scholar House in Newport and is a strategic partner with United Way on the child care crisis.

Amy Spiller, regional state president of Duke Energy, said her first job as a teenager was as a babysitter — and she learned then how important it was to parents to know their children were “safe and read to and happy.”

“We can’t ignore the data,” she said. “There is great momentum in Kentucky and we need to be investing in our own workforce.”

Warren Weber, regional president of PNC Bank, agreed. “Investing in early childhood saves dollars later on.”

CVG’s Candace McGraw says the workforce shortage comes down to two things: transportation and child care. Good jobs go begging, she says, because of these inhibitors.

Moira Weir, president and CEO of United Way, asked everyone to question, “What can we do better for our families?” She said that with targeted funding, United Way is “facing the challenges head on” and hopes to be “part of something really positive.”

“We are starting to see residual fallout from the pandemic — families facing steeper economic barriers and children falling behind in kindergarten readiness,” said Weir. “We know when families are stable, our communities are stronger, which is why we are collaborating with our key partners and advocating for Kentucky families.”

Blom said the state must create an environment — an “early learning eco-system” — that includes public-private partnerships, support for early years of brain development, more funding for the child care assistance program, and “becoming leaders in pulling ourselves up.”

State Representative Kim Moser said affordable, quality child care is “fundamental to workforce development.”

“We must make it easier for employees to stay in the workplace,” Moser said.

Wonda Winkler, president and CEO of Brighton Center, hosted the event at the Northern Kentucky Scholar House, which provides housing and support for single parents who are pursuing their education and get care and support for their children.

Winkler understands the critical connection between quality child care and the pursuit of an education and/or job training that can drive workforce participation — and a better quality of life for families.

“Good jobs and a livable wage matter,” Winkler said. “If we are going to help grow our economy we must address child care issues.”

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One Comment

  1. W. Jamie Ruehl says:

    Welcome to the Marxification of our Nation.

    This is the lynch pin: Tax Money

    Yes, life is hard and yes, we all can use some help, but that is EVERYBODY.

    If these people knew they were voicing support for MORE government, MORE bureaucracy, I’m pretty sure they would change their responses.

    People complain all the time how “the other side” spend tax dollars.

    How about none of these politicians or bureaucrats get our tax dollars and we spend that money the way we believe is best?

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