By Reann Parker, Director, Oak Grove School and Katrina DeClue, Links to Quality Community Consultant, Child Care Aware of Kansas. Originally published in the Fall 2022 issue of Kansas Child Magazine.
I recently sat down with Reann Parker, director of Oak Grove School in Manhattan, Kansas, to discuss the importance of child care subsidies for families in her program. Our conclusion: With the rising costs of food and other essentials, it’s more important than ever for providers to inform families about opportunities to reduce their child care tuition.
What subsidies are currently available for families in your program?
Oak Grove School currently has two subsidy options available to families: Raising Riley scholarships and the Child Care Subsidy from the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Raising Riley is a scholarship program for parents and guardians who live, work, or attend school in Riley County. Raising Riley providers are required to be fully licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and they must meet or exceed high standards for the health and safety of the children in their care.
The Kansas Child Care Subsidy is awarded directly to families based on household income. To receive a Raising Riley scholarship, families must meet at least one of the identified risk factors. Learn more and apply at RaisingRiley.com.
How are the families you serve benefiting from these subsidies?
Quality child care gives parents and guardians the ability to work and provide for their families without having to worry about the health and safety of their children. With a subsidy, families can reduce their monthly tuition and allocate income toward other immediate needs.
Subsidy programs have a significant impact on the development of young children and the continuity of care they receive. Quality child care should be a universal right — regardless of ability to pay — but we aren’t there yet!
What impact do these subsidies have on families in your program?
These subsidies help feed qualifying families and keep the electricity on at home.
Do you think families in your community know about the available subsidies?
I do not believe families readily know what subsidies are available. As providers, we need to spread the word about subsidies and help bridge the gap.