Rep Adam Bowling

State Rep. Adam Bowling

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 8, 2022) – State Representative Adam Bowling continues to play a growing role in Kentucky’s efforts to boost childhood education as House Speaker David Osborne named Bowling to a newly created task force. The panel will spend the next six months studying aspects of early childhood caregiving and education in the Commonwealth.

 The work group stems from the House Majority’s commitment to help address child care shortages across the state. Access to quality care was an issue before the pandemic, with parents facing long waitlists and limited hours and some areas of the state existing as virtual childcare deserts for several decades. However, the situation grew worse as the child care industry suffered huge obstacles during the past two years. The state’s shutdown caused an immediate loss of revenue, while additional regulatory burdens, labor shortages, and increased payroll, food, and supply costs have slowly eroded what was left.

“The number of providers in Kentucky has nearly been cut in half over the last decade. Continuing down this path is unsustainable. There is no way around it, and we must look at how we can find a reasonable solution together,” said Bowling, who represents Bell County and portion of Harlan County. “Early care and education are key to children’s futures. I am eager to begin working with community leaders and put our state on a brighter path.”

Bowling noted that the current gap in available service is pushing the burden off on parents, with the lack of providers being one of the biggest barriers to entering and remaining in the workforce. Studies from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showed that 24 percent of Americans say child care responsibilities were the reason for not looking to work last year. This also represents the largest obstacle for women to participate in the workforce. Among several other contributing factors, the cost of high-quality care continues to rise, making it harder for families to afford it.

“This is a quality of life issue with repercussions in so many areas, including education, economic development, and health. We need to find ways to create opportunities for a variety of child care providers – private, public, nonprofit, in-home, and centers – to thrive,” said House Speaker David Osborne. “Rep. Bowling has long been a respected advocate on this issue and was a natural choice for this task force. I look forward to seeing the results of their work.”

 As Osborne noted, the issue has a cascading effect on the state’s economy as well. Employers throughout the state continue to struggle to attract and retain workers, with an estimated 150,000 open positions and almost half of small businesses reporting they were unable to fill open positions. Research shows the lack of available child care in Kentucky accounts for $573 million in lost earnings, business productivity, and tax revenue.

 House lawmakers took aim at the situation this spring with House Bill 499. The measure established the Employee Child Care Assistance Program to encourage non-profit and for-profit employers to offer child care assistance as a benefit by matching employer contributions with state dollars.

 The task force will meet throughout the interim and outline policy recommendations for the 2023 Regular Session. For more information on the task force, visit the Legislative Research Commission’s website.

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