GLASGOW – Sitting at a table Thursday with child care advocates and stakeholders, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie heard from a foster parent hoping to share her support for a federal grant program that enables her to afford daycare – and keep her job.
She said, “if I didn’t have this opportunity to participate in this program, either I wouldn’t be able to (take) foster children or I wouldn’t be able to work,” said Guthrie, R-Bowling Green.
During a roundtable discussion, held in the conference room of a local Days Inn, Guthrie heard from stakeholders connected to the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant. He then toured Let’s Go Play Academy to get an idea of how the additional child care funding was being put to work.
As the nation’s largest federal child care assistance program, the grant enables states to support low-income families in their child care costs, allowing them to work, get job training or an education.
In 2018, the program saw a historic increase in funding, with an additional $5.8 billion allocated over a two-year period, according to the Urban Institute, a D.C.-based think tank founded by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the War on Poverty-era. Previously, the program had been losing funding and declining, with the number of children served dipping to historic lows in 2015, according to the institute.
Through the increase, Kentucky has received an additional $42 million, a boon advocates and stakeholders were eager to communicate. Congress is currently going through the appropriations process after passing a budget last month to set spending caps for the looming fiscal year and suspend the debt ceiling until July 2021.
With the potential for further boosts in child care funding, Kentucky Youth Advocates and its community partners are organizing conversations with the state’s congressional delegation at local child care facilities, according to a news release. On Thursday, Guthrie met with representatives from KYA, Child Care Advocates of Kentucky and Let’s Go Play Academy.
Guthrie said he saw the value of the program, especially its economic and workforce benefits.
“The people who participate in the grant … have to be actively engaged,” in working, doing job training or pursuing an education.
“What a lot of us say is that we need to give people an opportunity to go back to work, and this is one way of doing it,” he told the Daily News.