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Kentucky child care ‘Horizons Act’ passes Senate committee

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Kentucky child care ‘Horizons Act’ passes Senate committee

Feb 27, 2024 | 11:53 am ET
By Sarah Ladd
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Kentucky child care ‘Horizons Act’ passes senate committee
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Sen. Danny Carroll, right, with Dr. Sarah Vanover, middle, and Charles Aull, left.

FRANKFORT — The Horizons Act, which proposes supporting child care in Kentucky with $300 million in state funding over the next two years, sailed out of a Senate committee Tuesday morning 9-1 after about half an hour of discussion. 

The lone “no” vote was Sen. Lindsey Tichenor, R-Smithfield, who said she worries the bill’s focus on education will hold it up.

One person, Ann Thompson with the League of Women Voters, testified in support of the bill before the Senate Families and Children Committee. No one testified in opposition. 

Sponsor Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Benton, serves as president and CEO of Easter Seals West Kentucky, whose programs include a child care center. 

“If there were child care providers out there, and it was common in the industry, that they were making loads of money, and they were getting wealthy off of this, I wouldn’t be here today,” Carroll said. “I know the frustration that I see every month, when I look at the financials for my organization. And every month without fail, we lose money in early childhood education. And if it weren’t for the other programs we offer, our doors would be closed.” 

Federal COVID-19 dollars are running out, leaving centers to cut pay for their workers, raise tuition for parents and even close, the Lantern has reported

Kentucky could lose more than a fifth of its child care providers if the state doesn’t help. And even with the state help that is proposed in the House budget — a $52 million a year increase  — experts say about 16,000 kids could lose access to child care in 2024.

Among other provisions, Carroll’s bill would create a new degree through the Kentucky Community and Technical College System aimed at educating more child care providers, codify the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) eligibility at 85% of the state median income and create grant funds to incentivize businesses to innovate how they deliver child care in Kentucky. 

In explaining his support Tuesday, Sen. Stephen Meredith, R-Leitchfield, said: “I think the worst thing that could possibly happen for our commonwealth is to do nothing.” 

The Horizons Act can now head to the floor for consideration.

In a statement after the bill passed committee, Terry Brooks, the executive director for Kentucky Youth Advocates, praised the committee for moving the bill forward.

“It’s rare that a piece of legislation has the potential to benefit kids, parents, small businesses and Kentucky’s workforce and economy,” Brooks said. “Yet Senator Danny Carroll’s Horizons Act would do just that.”