At a time when Kentucky children are in greater need than ever of sound, early childhood education, the bottom keeps dropping out.
Now we learn that — thanks to some harsh budget cuts earlier this year — Kentucky is the toughest place in the nation for poor parents to get help paying for child care.
To qualify for help in Kentucky, parents must be at 100 percent or below the federal poverty level, a very low income for any family. For a family of four, that’s an annual income of $22,050 or less.
And Kentucky is one of only two states to freeze applications for the program, which means parents seeking help can’t even get on a waiting list.
The findings about Kentucky were in a report by the National Women’s Law Center on child care assistance.
But they shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has been following the decline in services for Kentucky’s poor families since state officials with Cabinet for Health and Families Services, facing an $86.6 million budget shortfall, were forced earlier this year to cut $58 million from the Child Care Assistance Program.
The result is what happened after the state enacted the cuts, according to Kentucky Youth Advocates’ Terry Brooks.
In Kentucky, an increasing number of children are not prepared for kindergarten.
The truth is that Kentucky’s child and family services system has lost about $60 million in state funds since 2009 because of a series of increasingly harsh budgets passed by the Kentucky General Assembly.
In January, lawmakers could repair some of the fiscal damage they have inflicted on education, human services and other programs. We hope they are paying attention.
— The Courier-Journal, Louisville