(Lexington, KY) – COVID-19’s impact on children and families across Kentucky is evident. With each closure or decrease in capacity of child care centers across the state, parents and caregivers have been forced to seek alternative forms of care.  

As of July 2020, 344 child care centers and family child care facilities have closed their doors for good, and of the facilities remaining open, enrollment has plummeted with an average decrease of 64 percent. For some families, access to child care close to home was never an option with nearly half of all Kentuckians living in a “child care desert.” 

Statewide nonprofit Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky (PCAK) aims to provide parents and caregivers with peace of mind as they seek new and alternative forms of child care. With a grant from the Berea College Appalachian Fund, PCAK will provide free background checks on babysitters and nannies for eligible families. 

“We want to empower parents and caregivers to make the right decisions for their children,” said Executive Director Jill Seyfred. “Building resilience in families begins with support systems like access to safe child care, and we hope this will allow families peace of mind in this difficult season.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), access to safe child care and the ability to hold employment are key factors in preventing child abuse and neglect. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents in Kentucky have experienced long periods of unemployment largely due to lack of access to child care. 

“Our mission is to improve the general education, health and physical well being of people living in the Appalachian Mountains and surrounding areas,” said David Cooke, Appalachian Fund Director. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support families and children in a time when it is needed most.”

For more information about this initiative or to apply for a background check, please visit PCAK also provides guidance for parents and caregivers seeking safe child care providers in one of their latest resources: “How to Choose a Safe Child Care Provider or Caregiver.