October 14, 2021

Understanding Kansas Child Care During COVID-19

Child Care Providers Have Experienced Additional Strain During Pandemic

View the recorded webinar for a discussion of the survey results and the state of child care in Kansas.

Every Kansas child deserves a strong start.

Prior to the pandemic, Kansas child care was in crisis. Child Care Aware of Kansas reported that only three Kansas counties met or exceeded demand—97% of counties did not meet desired capacity. Low-income communities, rural communities, and communities of color faced persistent child care challenges. It’s gotten worse because of the pandemic.

To understand how child care providers have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Child Care Aware of Kansas and the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund (Health Fund) partnered to survey providers from across the state. The timely survey focused on which precautions were being implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as what challenges child care providers have faced throughout the pandemic.

28.9% of licensed providers responded. They represented day care homes, group day care homes, and day care centers, as well as 102 counties (97%).

A key finding is that although virtually all Kansas child care providers are taking precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, fewer than half are relying on proven public health measures, such as masking, social distancing or vaccinating staff.

Most providers (70%) shared that financial support or incentives would help them implement COVID-19 precautions, while 43% said mandates or requirements would help.

Most programs reported that this time has been extremely stressful and has even caused many to consider closing their centers or home-based programs and seeking other forms of income. Many common themes emerged about the impacts of the pandemic, roadblocks they have faced, and ways they have adapted.

To ensure high-quality child care remains available across Kansas, policymakers and funders can provide financial support tied to specific and proven public health mandates, such as masking, testing or vaccination, in conjunction with educational materials and discussion guides to help maintain positive relationships between providers and families.

We need to work together on an integrated plan encompassing both short-term and long-term outcomes to prevent inequities in access to safe, high-quality child care among people of color, low-income communities, and rural and frontier counties.

Child Care Survey Resources

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© United Methodist Health Ministry Fund