Appalachian child care providers struggle to make their economic ends meet because of too little state financial support according to a study recently released by the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.
“There isn’t enough money in childcare around here to sustain it as a quality business,” says Bonita Adams, Co-Director of the Appalachian Early Childhood Development Center in Whitesburg. “They want to bring manufacturing and development to our area, but you have to have quality child care to support the families who need those jobs. The children need a loving and nurturing environment that will lay the foundation for their future success,” says Adams.
“The reality of the economy in eastern Kentucky today means most parents can’t afford full-price tuition and the state subsidy isn’t sufficient to cover the full cost of care,” says Justin Maxson, MACED President. “It is a no-win situation that must be addressed.”
The report indicates that investments in the child care industry pay dividends in increased productivity and improved quality of life, but child care providers in rural Appalachian Kentucky face significant market barriers to providing high-quality care. The report, Child Care in Appalachian Kentucky, is based on in-depth interviews with ten eastern Kentucky child care center operators and existing research on the child care industry. The report was produced for the Eastern Kentucky Child Care Coalition.
Families of all income levels across the country struggle to access high quality care for their children. MACED conducted the study to learn more about how issues common to the child care industry manifest in rural Appalachia. In the distressed counties of Appalachian Kentucky, where more than 30 percent of the population lives in poverty, many child care centers are not financially sustainable.
The report also identifies that child care facilities suffer from management challenges and lack of access to needed financial capital to fund equipment and facilities.
The MACED report contains the following recommendations to improve financial viability in eastern Kentucky child care centers.
• Implement subsidy reform through shifts in state policy to better support the child care industry.
• Implement tax reform including designating child care tax credits as refundable and creating a tiered tax credit structure that rewards high quality programs.
• Increase incentives for workforce development by expanding scholarships for training and providing wage supports for workers who pursue further education.
• Provide small business support with increased access to technical assistance and business management training.
• Increase access to capital so that financing is more broadly available to child care providers.
Click here to download the report (1.1 Mb pdf) or call 859-986-2373 to receive a hard copy.