December 12, 2017

Kansas counties can on average meet about half the potential demand for child care services, according to a report funded by the state Department for Children and Families.

Child Care Aware of Kansas, which administers the state’s child care referral service, said in the report released Monday that nearly 164,000 children under age 6 potentially need child care in Kansas.

Sedgwick County can meet only 45 percent of potential demand, the Wichita Eagle reported .

The lower the percentage, the less likely that parents will find the right child care provider.

“The problem is, I’m hopping day care to day care every six months to a year because their hours change, they’re not being honest on the rates, they’re not being very honest on the days, or they plain and simply don’t seem like they care about even watching the children,” said Antwynette Williams, a mother of two children in Wichita.

The Department for Children and Families “remains committed to doing our part to promote healthy families in Kansas,” according to Taylor Forrest, an agency spokeswoman.

“We recognize that part of that involves providing support for child care programs whether that is training child care workers, improving the quality of child care or educating parents on how to select care for their children,” Forrest said.

The nonprofit Kansas Action for Children has called for lawmakers to strengthen tax credits to improve access to child care. Lawmakers reinstated the child care tax credit in June as part of their rollback of a 2012 tax policy.

Child Care Aware recommended greater scholarships, coaching and grants for potential child care providers. It also encouraged businesses to develop child care in communities.

Read more from the Lawrence Journal-World here.