A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky’s childcare providers face and uncertain future when federal funding expires in September

By Nadia Ramlagan
Public News Service

Childcare providers in Kentucky are bracing for severe funding cuts when $330 million in annual federal funding expires in September.

A recent survey of hundreds of child-care directors in the Commonwealth shows most expect to raise tuition rates and cut staff pay.

Research shows kids who have access to early childhood education are more likely to go to college, earn more money and have better health.

Around $330 million in annual federal funding for child care in Kentucky is slated to expire in September, according to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. (NKyTribune file)

Krista Hughes is director of Hickory Grove Daycare Preschool in Kenton County.

She said grant money was used specifically for payroll to retain staff, but that without federal funds, she’d be forced to cut the program.

“I’ve already had to do a 5% tuition increase for the 2024 calendar year,” said Hughes. “And with the grant funds no longer coming in, we would be looking at another significant to which an increase for our families.”

Almost two hundred centers serving more than 12,000 children reported that closing their program was the most or next-to-most likely scenario after federal payments expire.

Data from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy shows over the past decade the state has lost more than 1,700 child care providers – a 46% drop.

Children’s Academy of Hopkinsville owner Cora Beth Brown said she expects to lose a lot of families who are unable to pay if tuition is raised, adding that Western Kentucky is already underserved when it comes to quality, affordable childcare.

“I will lose a lot of families just due to them not being able to afford child care,” said Brown. “If they don’t have child care, they cannot work, and that’s what I hear from families all the time.”

According to the First Five Years Fund, more than 60% of parents nationwide report that childcare has become expensive over the past year, largely due to increased tuition costs, inflation and centers accepting fewer children.

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