District announces childcare program for faculty and staff
(Ky.) Beginning this summer, teachers in one Kentucky school district can enroll their own children in a district-run childcare program that officials say they hope will boost educator attendance and retainment.
Hardin County Schools, located just south of Louisville, has partnered with Elizabethtown Community and Technical College to operate two locations with a total of about 150 slots for faculty members as the number of centers has declined in recent years.
“I believe it will have an impact on employee attendance,” Teresa Morgan, HCS superintendent, said during a board of education meeting last week. “A lot of times they are missing because their child care provider is sick.”
According to U.S. Department of Education data from 2013-14–the most recent federal data on teacher attrition–more than 38 percent of the teachers who left the profession and nearly 23 percent of those who switched schools voluntarily did so for "personal reasons." Nearly 1 in 10 of those who left the classroom did so to care for family.
Districts in a handful of states, including Montana, Illinois and Texas, have reported some success in recruiting new teachers and retaining those who are parents of young children after implementing district childcare programs.
In Indiana, for instance, Carmel Clay Schools has an on-site day-care facility that serves 200 children ranging in age from infancy to 5 years old. One district official told Education Week earlier this year that since the program stays open until 5 p.m., many teachers use those few hours between the end of class and pick-up time to grade papers, work on lesson plans or collaborate, which has paid off in the classroom as well.
In Kentucky, Hardin County’s new program will be open next year to teachers and other district staff–including bus drivers and custodians. There will be two sites available, according to district officials. One site, at North Park Elementary, will have space for up to 22 children, while the College View Campus site will have about 130 available slots.
For older children, the program will prepare them for kindergarten, according to the district.
The center will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., which means school staff will be able to easily drop their children off before school starts and pick them up without having to rush out of their classrooms each day. In addition to giving teachers the time to grade student work or create lesson plans, the extra time would allow them to speak to parents or participate in faculty committees that meet after school.
It will also be open even when school is not in session, including on snow days.
The district’s childcare center will also serve as a hands-on lab and observation opportunity for students enrolled in Elizabethtown Community and Technical College’s early childhood education program. Students attending the college can also can take advantage of the child care option.
The weekly rate for infants, birth to 2 years, is $135, and for toddlers ages 3 to 5, the weekly rate is $120. District officials told the school board they expect that the program will pay for itself.
"We're extremely excited to expand opportunities for our employees and ECTC students," Janay Sutton, director of health and family resource services who will oversee the center, told school board members. "It's a reliable child care program.”
The district's program for teenage parents also will move to the College View and North Park childcare sites next school year.
Applications for the teacher childcare program open today.