HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) – A new study released by the Center for American Progress shows many Kentuckians live in areas where licensed child care facilities are scarce or nonexistent. Researchers refer to these areas as childcare deserts and concluded that more than 50 percent of people in the Bluegrass live in these areas.
“In the infant classroom, you can have five children per one caregiver or you can have ten with two”, said New Beginnings Child Development Director Donna Fields. “And that’s the max that you can have in a classroom.”
Fields said her facility is at full capacity for infants and toddlers. Parents looking to send their children to her center are placed onto a wait list for nearly six months. Fields said the cost of adding new programs would be too much for parents.
“Our rates for full time, which would be four or five days, is $125”, said Fields. “So we charge half of what it actually costs because parents can’t pay $250 per week for child care. For some parents, that’s half of their paycheck.”
Heather Garry is a single mother who sends her son to New Beginnings Child Development Center. She told WYMT when he was younger, she struggled to find an open space at a child care facility.
“I had to get a lot of help through my parents and family and stuff like that”, said Heather Garry. “It was harder traveling back and forth and trying to find somebody. This is a guarantee every day. I know where he’s going to go and what he’s going to be doing. It’s just like sending him to school.”
Garry said she cannot imagine how she would support herself and her son in child care was not available.
“If I didn’t have daycare, it would be less hours for me”, said Garry. “I wouldn’t be able to live just me and him on our own because I couldn’t afford it. Because today I had to work until four and school lets out at three so that would have been an hours worth of work I would have lost.”
Donna Fields said one solution to the child care desert in Kentucky would be more funding for child care assistance programs. She said that would allow her to hire more licensed caregivers.
More information on the study can be found here