LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Childcare has become one of the biggest issues of the pandemic.
A quarter of the 1,400 parents surveyed in a new poll say they are still struggling to find childcare. Childcare access has been steadily declining in Kentucky for years.
"We knew in Kentucky, even before the pandemic, that we had lost over 50% of our child care providers since 2013," Prichard Committee Director of Policy Perry Papka said. "The pandemic just brought that into greater focus."
Perry Papka's team at the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence partnered with state organizations to ask parents their concerns with accessing childcare months into the pandemic. According to the survey, 51% of parents are stressed about how well they can afford childcare and if they can even get it in the first place.
"25% are struggling to find care. Forty-six percent, so almost half, have had to significantly change their job status. So they have either quit, they've lost their job or they've had to make another significant change in their unemployment status to take care of their kids or to afford childcare," Papka said.
In 2020, there were nearly 2,200 childcare providers in Kentucky compared ot 4,400 in 2013. Papka says if the numbers keep dropping, families could be dealing with consequences in a post-pandemic world.
"You're going to see it most directly in people's ability to go back to work," Papka said. "If we don't have enough childcare, that is a huge drag on Kentucky's economy in the near and long-term."
Papka says the Prichard Committee believes the solution is for the state and federal government to invest in the industry.