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'It’s expensive': Kansas lawmakers, advocates discuss barriers, solutions to accessible childcare

Affordable childcare solutions in Kansas and Missouri
Posted at 9:52 PM, Nov 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-16 11:13:15-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo — The Kansas legislature is taking steps to make childcare more affordable.

Starting last year, all Kansas businesses could apply for a state income tax credit to help their employees cover childcare costs. After expanding the program, lawmakers say they aren’t seeing a lot applications coming in.

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Chanise Brown-Warner would be in the same position as many of the parents her in-home day care used to service if she had to pay for childcare today.

"I have an 11-year-old, an 8-year-old, and two stepchildren who are four and five," Brown-Warner said.

It would not be affordable for her family. Brown-Warner actually joins many households throughout our region.

"The cost of childcare can often exceed mortgage payments. Infant-childcare costs in the state of Kansas can be equivalent to in-state college tuition," said Wendy Doyle, president and CEO of United Women's Empowerment.

Advocates like Doyle said the solutions shouldn’t just fall on families.

"We thought we’d have more taking advantage [of the tax credits], but I really don’t think they understand it or know that it’s there," Kansas Sen. Dinah Sykes said.

Sykes, along with United Women's Empowerment, the Greater Kansas City Chamber and the Family Conservancy, participated in a panel discussion on Wednesday about solutions that exist for families.

Advocate roundtable on "The Childcare Crisis"

As a parent and former childcare provider, Brown-Warner said accessibility and affordability have been barriers.

"I can’t have a job and tell my employer 'Hey, I can work', but I turn around and not have daycare set up. What job at that point?" she said.

 As lawmakers and businesses keep the discussion going, some of them agree it takes more than one voice to find more permanent solutions.

"It is a big number," Doyle said. "It’s a kitchen table conversation about how are we going to pay for childcare?"

President Joe Biden is also proposing an investment that would put millions of dollars in the pockets of childcare providers in Kansas and Missouri.

The $16 billion funding request is waiting on approval from Congress.