Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Child Care in Kansas Is Expensive and Inaccessible

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Child Care in Kansas Is Expensive and Inaccessible

Article excerpt

According to a report released by Child Care Aware of Kansas this month, there are almost 164,000 children under age 6 who may be in need of child care in our state. Of the 105 counties in Kansas, only 16 can claim that 75 percent to 100 percent of this need is covered -- and Shawnee County isn't one of them. The report found that just 60 percent of the demand for child care is met in Shawnee County.

In other counties, this proportion is far lower. Only 45 percent and 34 percent of the need is being met in Sedgwick and Wyandotte Counties, respectively (which is particularly troubling, as they have the second- and third-largest populations of children under the age of 6 in the state). In smaller counties, the numbers are often abysmal: 28 percent in Finney County, 32 percent in Ford, 21 percent in Lincoln and 18 percent in Seward. In almost half of the counties in Kansas, the report found that child care is readily available for only 50 percent or less of parents.

As the report notes, this lack of options can have significant economic effects: "When parents have the security of knowing their children are well cared for, they are more productive at work." According to the National Survey of Early Care and Education, employment is the main reason parents search for child care in the U.S. And the most recent National Study of the Changing Workforce (which is conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management) reports that more than 40 percent of workers "experience work-family conflict on a regular basis."

A previous NSCW found that 30 percent of respondents had issues with child care arrangements at some point in the three months before they took the survey.

Kansas parents also have to cope with the high cost of child care. According to the Economic Policy Institute, child care for the average 4-year-old costs almost $8,000 in our state -- a number that jumps to $11,201 for infants (the 17th-highest in the country). …

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