Rep. Roger Marshall, Business Leaders, and Experts Discuss Action on Kansas’ Child Care Crisis
“Access to safe and affordable childcare is critical to economic growth and development,” Rep. Marshall said at the roundtable discussion at Kansas State University
The devastating infant-and-toddler child care crisis that deals a massive $57 billion in economic damage to our nation each year by leaving working parents distracted and unfocused at work, and young children without needed, high-quality supports, is a pressing concern in Kansas.
That was the powerful message sent by a roundtable discussion at Kansas State University on Friday, August 30, 2019, that included Representative Roger Marshall (R-KS, 1st District) and local business leaders and child care experts.
Participating in the event was Melissa Rooker, Executive Director, Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund. The Children’s Cabinet advises Governor Laura Kelly on early childhood issues. Ms. Rooker talked about the existing partnerships in Kansas addressing early childhood education, and highlighted the need for flexibility in public programs to allow for child care innovation.
Business leaders gave evidence of the negative impact of lack of child care on attracting and retaining businesses in Manhattan. Trent Armbrust, Director of Economic Development, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, Caitlin Pride, Director of Mission Integration at Via Christi Health, and Jayme Minton, Support Services Director at Meadowlark shared that it will take a synergy of public and private partnerships to address the child care crisis.
Participants from Kansas State University included Bronwyn Fees, Ph.D., Professor, Family Studies and Human Services, Associate Dean, Health and Human Sciences, Mary DeLuccie, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Family Studies and Human Services, Bradford Wiles, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Extension Specialist Early Childhood, Patty Peschel, M.S., Director, Kansas Child Care Training Opportunities, and Rosie Mitchell, Director, Center for Child Development.
The roundtable, hosted by the national business-leader group ReadyNation and entitled “Child Care Solutions Will Boost Kansas’ Economy,” explored the challenges faced by parents and employers across Kansas as a result of the child care crisis. The convening came on the heels of the recent ReadyNation report that detailed the immense economic harm created by this alarming problem.
The economic impact of the crisis is both immediate and long-term, a point underscored during the discussion: it impacts our current workforce because working parents are understandably distracted at work when child care is scarce, unaffordable, or of low quality, and it impacts our future workforce because young children who don’t have high-quality early supports can often experience worse educational and life outcomes as a result.
Rep. Marshall sees child care as a major priority, especially because of its magnitude in Kansas. There, 44 percent of children live in child care “deserts,” areas in which children who need child care outnumber available, accredited slots 3:1 or worse. Meanwhile, center-based infant-and-toddler child care in Kansas costs more per year, on average, than in-state public college tuition.
The scarcity and lack of affordability of child care, and its impact on the economy, are top-of-mind for Rep. Marshall.
“Access to safe and affordable childcare is critical to economic growth and development,” Rep. Marshall said. “Ensuring there are reliable options available for working parents will have ripple effects across local and regional economies, not only supporting jobs in the child care sector but also in other fields as more parents are able to remain in the workforce.”
A selection of photographs from the roundtable may be found below.
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