On August 16, 2017, Brenda Bowman, COO, Southside Christian Child Care/ President, Child Care Advocates of KY and Richard Morris, owner of multiple child care centers presented testimony to the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare & Family Services on the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). CCAP is a program that provides quality, safe child care for low-income families. Due to changes in CCAP regulations and funding in the past 11 years, there has been major decreases in centers/providers and children served throughout the state.
According to Bowman and Morris, the reason for hundreds of centers closing throughout the state is due to changes in billing for services. Bowman operates centers in three states: Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee. From her experience, reimbursement rates in Kentucky are lower than the rates in Indiana and Tennessee. Bowman argues Kentucky is well below other states in reimbursement rates and child care centers are closing because of it. Several years ago, the billing for services changed from billing based on enrollment to now billing based on attendance. Given this change, funding has decreased significantly and centers are now competing with fast food restaurants and retail establishments to maintain quality staff.
As an owner of multiple child care centers, Morris contends that it is hard to promote quality and provide a quality staff when they are unable to be paid for their work. Therefore, the ability to attract and retain employees is becoming the number one concern for providers. Without proper staffing, centers that have the ability to enroll 100 children are only able to enroll 60 children due to the lack of quality employees. In turn, families are unable to work and children are not receiving care in a licensed facility. Bowman and Morris state that the enrollment basis for billing services improves employment for child car staffing and without significant increases to the CCAP reimbursement rates child care providers are running out of time and money to provide quality child care. The Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare & Family Services has asked for further data and recommendations to be submitted.