The National Women’s Law Center, held a webinar on December 4th entitled, “Providing Care for the Care Workforce – How Kentucky is Supporting Early Educators,” to discuss Kentucky’s strategy to eliminate childcare staffing shortages by giving childcare workers free childcare for their children. Across the country, 50% of the childcare workforce qualifies for assistance to pay for their childcare, yet many people are still forced to leave the field because they are unable to cover the cost of caring for their own children. The childcare industry has seen dramatic declines in staffing after the COVID-19 pandemic and increased workforce competition among retail and hospitality industries as these other jobs offer pay the childcare industry cannot compete with. Providing childcare is one incentive that offsets a pay cut one may take to attract high-quality childcare providers back to the field and new talent. Additionally, providing access to childcare will attract single parents to enter the workforce and increase income for childcare providers.

Kentucky has served as a flagship state for this legislation, as it has seen great success after implementation, with more children being cared for and childcare facilities having full staff. Oklahoma, Maine, Arizona, Washington, and Rhode Island are other states that have implemented similar legislation, and Iowa recently started a pilot program to allow their workforce to apply for child care assistance for their own children.

By Harper Dilley, Policy Intern