As reported by the Courier Journal on December 21, 2015, the plan to “use about $15 million in surplus federal money to boost payments to centers that accept children whose parents qualify for help through the Kentucky Child Care Assistance Program” has “collapsed because state officials failed to enact it before his administration ended Dec. 7.”
It is now up to the new administration to decide if the $1 rate increase goes forward.
As advocates, we walk a thin line when it comes to expressing gratitude for the “wins” for families and children, while balancing the reality of how it impacts the day to day lives of those we serve. The goal is to work towards the best possible outcome, but we cannot settle for less than what is necessary to make lasting change. The perfect example- the recent rate increase for the Child Care Assistance Program.
We celebrate the $1.00 a day per child increase in reimbursement! Additionally, we’re thrilled this was an increase across the board for all STAR rated programs. Grateful? Absolutely! Will it solve the problems that resulted in the Cabinet’s decision to freeze the program and hold rates over the last nine years? NO!
With new state leadership, comes renewed energy and commitment to right this ship! The rate increase is a good start, but it’s certainly not the end!
Is it worth devoting your time and energy to? I can’t answer for you, but for me, it will be a priority!
I hope you’ll stay abreast of our next steps and Call to Action in the days and months ahead. The easiest way to stay connected is by signing up online to receive alerts. Go to Kentucky’s Voice for Early Childhood at www.kentuckysvoice.org.
Gov. Beshear Strengthens Quality of Child Care by Increasing Provider Rates Rate increase also improves parents’ access to quality care
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 3, 2015) – In an effort to increase the quality and access of child care for Kentucky families, Gov. Steve Beshear is increasing reimbursement rates by 5 percent for child care providers participating in the Kentucky’s Child Care Assistance Program or CCAP.
CCAP provides access to quality child care for eligible Kentucky parents who work or participate in education and training programs. Child care rates in the program have been frozen since 2006. The increase is effective Jan. 1.
The Governor’s action targets approximately 1,570 child care providers statewide that deliver child care to almost 24,000 Kentucky children, who qualify and participate in CCAP.
“At the request of the Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, I’m proud to approve this rate increase to assist low-income working families with access to quality child care across the Commonwealth,” Gov. Beshear said.“There is no better investment than strengthening our families’ foundation – with more children learning and more parents earning.”
The current statewide average reimbursement for CCAP children to child care providers is $10.23 a day, or approximately 37 percent of Kentucky’s average market rate. Most CCAP providers will see an increase of approximately $1 per child per day, or an average of 5 percent.
Providers that have a 2-star rating or higher in STARS, the state’s quality rating and improvement system, will qualify for an additional rate increase as follows:
· An additional $1 per child per day for all providers with a STAR level 2 rating;
· An additional $1.50 per child per day for all providers with a STAR level 3 rating; and
· An additional $2 per child per day for all providers with a STAR level 4 rating.
The increase will assist child care centers in improving staff salaries, purchasing additional educational resources to provide higher-quality early learning experiences for children, and will stabilize and possibly increase the child care provider market – providing parents more access to quality child care.
The increase totals $15 million that is covered 100 percent by the federal Child Care Development Fund grant, so no new state funds are required in fiscal year 2017 or fiscal year 2018.
The federal funding is available due to a drop in the number of children and families applying for assistance. A budget shortfall beginning in 2013 caused cuts to the CCAP program; however, once cuts were restored by Gov. Beshear in the fall of 2014, the number of families re-enrolling their children in CCAP did not rise as quickly as state leaders expected. This was due, in part, to an increase in the number of full-day preschool and Head Start programs, and a decrease in the number of licensed child care centers, particularly centers serving CCAP families.
Gov. Beshear said he is increasing rates now after administrators confirmed no unforeseen enrollment surge in CCAP – especially after the back-to-school months.
In addition to the rate increase, regulations filed today also include provisions that make it more difficult for individuals who have previously committed fraud and abuse in the child care program to reopen under a different name or legal entity.
Valerie Knight-Collier shares her teaching philosophies about working with the children in her classroom at Neighborhood House in the Portland neighborhood of Louisville. For the last 26 years, she has taught with love and passion, providing an environment where children grow and learn through play. As she says, “I’m a firm believer that if you cover every situation with love, they will see a change.” She sees the bigger picture, that role modeling good choices for children and giving them a good foundation helps Portland grow too. “Our kids bloom and blossom right where they’re planted.”
When we think of experiencing nature with children, often we envision a park filled with trees, a garden of vegetables or a field of flowers, but more often than not encounters with the natural world happen on a much smaller scale and in subtle ways. Lucky for us, children are keen observers. It isn’t hard for them to find nature, even in the middle of the city. It might be a roly poly discovered along the edge of a walkway and shared between two pairs of hands or a leaf taken from an ivy vine hanging over a stone wall. These small moments of nature can be powerful tools in guiding children to appreciate and wonder about nature. What children need from adults are the time to stop, observe and ask questions and the willingness to wonder along side them.
How often are we in such a hurry that we are practically pulling our children along behind us even when they see something interesting and want to stop to take a closer look? Of course there are places we have to be (and we can’t always spend an hour walking from the house to the car). But even if we just pause for a few seconds to pick a dandelion at our child’s request and feel its softness, we can let children know that what they find interesting is important and worthy of our time.