Kentucky employers can now apply to receive state matching funds if they choose to contribute to an employee’s child care costs. In Kentucky, “child care” means “the provision of care for a child [infant through school-age] for a portion of a day on a regular basis, designed to supplement, but not substitute for, the parent or guardian’s responsibility for the child’s protection, development, and supervision.” The program is called the Employee child Care Assistance Partnership (ECCAP) and is the result of House Bill 499, which was passed and signed into law during the 2022 legislative session. The bill was championed by the Kentucky Chamber and sponsored by Rep. Samara Heavrin. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services began accepting applications on April 2, 2023.
The new program is a one-year pilot program that aims to address the current child care crisis impacting Kentucky employers and workers. Through the program, employers who choose to contribute to an employee’s child care costs can apply for a state match that would allow the employer to possibly double the size of an employee benefit. For example, if an employer contributes $100 per month toward an employee’s child care costs, the state will match that contribution up to 100 percent, with the amount of the match based on a sliding scale established by KRS 199.885. See below.
State Contribution Match Scale
|Employee Household Income Compared to State Median Houshold Income (SMI)||State Match Percentage||Annual Maximum Income Limit|
|Equal to or less than 100% SMI||100%||$77,700|
|Above 100% – 120% SMI||90%||$93,240|
|Above 120% – 140% SMI||80%||$108,780|
|Above 140% – 160% SMI||70%||$124,320|
|Above 160% – 180% SMI||60%||$139,860|
|Above 180% SMI||50%||Anything above $139,860|
To receive a state match, the child care provider must be licensed and participate in the KY All STARS program, the state’s quality rating system. But, it is important to note that not all school-age care environments are required to be licensed in Kentucky. A list of child care settings that are exempt from child care licensure in Kentucky can be found in Section 3 of 922 KAR 2:090. To locate school-age child care providers who participate in Kentucky All STARS, employees can utilize either Kentucky’s public child care search tool or the KYOSA Data Explorer. However, if an employee’s child care provider is not licensed or is licensed but does not participate in the All STARS program, the employer may still contribute to their child care expenses. The employee just would not be eligible to receive a state match.
Access disparities to high-quality child care have long been key factors in keeping many Kentuckians, particularly women, either underemployed or out of the workforce all together, and school-age care is no exception. According to America After 3PM, for every child in Kentucky in an afterschool program, four more are waiting to get in with cost, lack of programs, and transportation issues cited by parents as top barriers. Expanding access to high-quality afterschool and summer programs is essential to solving Kentucky’s current child care crisis, and Kentucky employers are encouraged to consider and support the childcare needs of their employees across the entire age continuum.
Several resources from the Kentucky Chamber and Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services are available to help employers interested in the program. See the links below. In addition, employers with questions related to how program rules and restrictions apply to school-age care environments are encouraged to email Stephanie Barker, Coordinator for the Kentucky Out-of-School Alliance, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources for Employers:
- Division of Child Care landing page for the Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership
- Kentucky Chamber resources to support employers in addressing the child care challenges of their workers
- Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership: FAQ
Watch the webinar below to learn more about Kentucky’s new Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership (ECCAP) program: