As the childcare crisis continues, one nonprofit shares how businesses can become part of the solution

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 7:56 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Nonprofit organization United Women’s Empowerment (WE) held a panel on Wednesday to educate businesses on a resource available to support their employees during the childcare crisis.

The Kansas Employer Childcare Tax Credit gives businesses a credit to be used against their state income taxes for a portion of the childcare expenses they receive. This applies if an employer provides child care for an employee or helps them pay for other child care.

For example, 30 percent of the total amount spent by an organization to help an employee pay for childcare or locate care would receive a maximum credit of $30,000. Fifty percent of the total amount spent establishing a childcare facility primarily used by dependents of the organization’s employees would receive a maximum credit of $45,000.

“It takes the grassroots efforts. Childcare providers. Parents. But businesses all coming to the table and talking about the importance of this,” said Kansas Senator Dinah Sykes.

Infant daycare centers in Kansas are more expensive than in-state college tuition and demand for care outweighs the supply. There are twice the number of children under five per available childcare slot. That’s according to the latest Status of Women in Kansas report.

In Missouri, 57 percent of families are paying more than 500 dollars a month and 93 percent had a disruption during the pandemic. If the cost of childcare exceeds their monthly income, they could be left with no choice but to leave the workforce. In the state of Kansas, this has created long-term consequences. It costs the state $2.2 billion a year.

“The child care system sector is significantly underfunded and the business model is broken and due to this, employers like yourself in the room are facing workforce shortages due to the lack of affordable, quality child care,” said President and CEO of the Family Conservancy, Paula Neth.

Recruiting and retaining staff are among some of the biggest challenges affecting childcare centers. This became clear during the pandemic, and The Children’s Center in Roeland Park is one of few in Kansas City that survived. Director Jess Hanaf knows firsthand that, as a new mother, it takes a village to raise a child and during the workday, parents need extra help. However, this comes with a price tag. Her child is one of 53 served through the center.

“I’d be at home with my kids. There would probably not be another option,” said Hanaf.

With limited spots available at local centers, she says some parents are left with no choice but to stay home with the kids. The statistics show this typically means fewer women in the workforce.

Hanaf says phones have been ringing off the hook with people wanting to get added to their waitlist, and parents are being told it could be more than a year before they receive care.

The most updated version of the tax credit took effect on July 1, 2022, allowing all Kansas businesses to apply to receive a state income tax credit for providing child care for employees or helping employees pay for other child care. Senator Sykes says it’s been a long time coming and she has been advocating for the bill to get passed for the last five years.