Potential government shutdown puts childcare for local families at risk

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 5:51 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - In three days, thousands of kids in Kansas and Missouri are at risk of getting kicked out of daycare. A federal program created by the American Rescue Plan could end if a government shutdown happens.

In Missouri, 10,964 kids are set to lose childcare and in Kansas, 45,446 are expected to lose their current childcare services. But daycare programs are also at risk if the government shuts down without more funding for these programs. More than 1600 childcare programs across Kansas and Missouri could also close according to Century Foundation.

Stephanie Vogel owns the Happy Hearts Learning Center Daycare in Kansas City, Kansas. Through the Childcare Stabilization Grant program, caregivers like her can get reimbursed for some of the food they buy for kids.

“Parents ask if they need to pack a lunch and we say ‘No, we do that for them,’” Vogel explained. “So breakfast, lunch and a snack and they seem really grateful that’s something they don’t have to worry about.”

Since the height of the pandemic, the number of students at Happy Hearts has tripled, with 14 staff members. Vogel worries she could lose some of them if the grant goes away.

“Being able to have funds to help us pay them more what they deserve it has benefits,” Vogel said. “We have staff members that are worried if they’re going to have their job.”

The spending bill being debated in congress does have funding for the grant. if a shutdown happens experts with the non-profit Childcare Aware in Kansas urge parents not to panic because there’s still plenty of services offered.

“Providing free referrals to high quality licensed early care and education in the state of Kansas,” Child Care Aware Executive Director Kelly Davydov told KCTV. “So, families can absolutely reach out and ask for a list of programs that might be open to serve their child and their family.”

Research from Century Foundation also uncovered Kansas and Missouri could lose a total of $4.9 million in state income tax over time. Because state law requires a certain ratio between caregivers and children, if daycare centers are forced to layoff employees due to revenue from grants going away, they’ll be forced to downsize how many students they can have as well.

Kansas could lose 2,530 child care jobs at minimum according to Century Foundation, while Missouri could see 2,932 positions go away.