At a panel discussion on early childhood education and child care on Wednesday, Carltez Hampton said the aid funds the HL Neblett Center received from the CARES Act saved his life.
“We wouldn’t have survived last year without it,” said Hampton, director of the afternoon childcare and enrichment program at the Neblett Center.
The Prichard Committee hosted the roundtable at the Hampton Inn & Suites as part of their early childhood education initiative funded by the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro.
In January, the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro donated a multi-year grant of $ 500,000 to the Prichard Committee to help them in this endeavor. This grant is part of a $ 4 million early childhood education initiative funded by the PLFO.
The Prichard Committee hired Benjamin Gies to lead the effort.
Gies chaired the roundtable, which included U.S. Representative for 2nd District Brett Guthrie, a Republican from Bowling Green.
Local stakeholders from education and child care centers also participated in the panel discussion, including Hampton, Clara Frakes, employee of the Neblett Center, John Alexander, CEO of the YMCA and Janet Land, principal of the Settle Kindergarten. Memorial United Methodist Church.
The event was meant to be a way for the congressman to learn how COVID-19 relief dollars have been spent locally on child care and early childhood education, and how there is still a need more help, said Gies.
He said that while the government has funded child care centers well throughout the pandemic, those funds have supplemented an already crippled sector.
“Even before the pandemic, 50% of Kentuckians lived in what is considered a child care desert,” he said, stating that many families do not have access to child care services. affordable or quality children, which prevents them from working.
Because of the pandemic, he said, the Commonwealth is receiving more investment in child care than it has had in a long time, but the key will be how to make this sustainable.
Child care centers have received a lot of federal funding over the past year, but they already needed it, he said.
Guthrie said he and other members of Congress understood this critical situation.
“We want people to have good careers, and in order to do that you need to have a safe, quality place to send your children,” he said.
The first marching orders towards this initiative were to seek individuals to participate in a coordination committee.
Earlier this month, the Prichard committee and the PLFO hosted a luncheon where they appealed to several influential people in the community to join this committee. Of the 40 guests, 36 have signed up.
One of the first actions of the coordinating committee will include a landscape scan of the early childhood ecosystem in Owensboro and Daviess County, as well as a needs assessment.
Gies said the community action committee will meet on August 25 in Owensboro.