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Friday
December 09th, 2022

kansas state sealELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The need for reliable and quality childcare remains for many people, and recently, some action was taken to help with just that. 

Last Wednesday, Gov. Laura Kelly announced her administration is knocking down a significant administrative barrier to joining the Kansas child care workforce, according to a release from the State of Kansas. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), in collaboration with the Department for Children and Families (DCF), is now offering digital fingerprinting to child care workers to accelerate the licensing approval process to enable these critical workers to begin work as soon as possible.

“We are working to make it easier to join the workforce in every sector, but especially child care,” Gov. Kelly noted in the State of Kansas release. “Child care improves the long-term well-being of our children, helps attract and retain a highly skilled workforce, and brings business to the state. Anything we do to streamline the process of joining the child care workforce is a significant win for our state. The Federal Office of Child Care requires a comprehensive background check for all people living, working, or volunteering in child care facilities who meet certain criteria, including working unsupervised. A background check includes fingerprinting.”

Since December 2018, KDHE has been implementing fingerprint-based background checks using paper/card ink prints, the State of Kansas release noted, a process which can be lengthy and can cause delays due to the paper process and mailings between facilities, fingerprinting sites, KDHE, and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI).

“By using digital fingerprinting, the wait time on the background check process is greatly reduced,” KDHE Secretary Janet Stanek noted in the State of Kansas release. “This efficiency will ultimately help thousands of childcare provider applicants obtain their licenses more expeditiously, allowing them to make an immediate impact on the child care needs in their communities. In November 2021, KDHE and DCF launched a small pilot project with the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA in partnership with the KBI. This pilot has significantly reduced wait times for fingerprint results, and we are now inviting all childcare workers across the state to take advantage of this technology.”

“We know how important it is for parents to access quality child care,” DCF Secretary Laura Howard noted in the State of Kansas release. “That’s why it was so important to me that we find a way to leverage existing DCF services to better serve our childcare workforce.”

Gov. Kelly has also invested in child care as a vital component of workforce and economic development success. Earlier this year, she signed House Bill 2237. The legislation makes child care more accessible and affordable for all Kansas families by incentivizing businesses to provide child care services at their place of employment or through contracting with licensed providers, according to a June release from the State of Kansas.

“We’re making child care more accessible and affordable to make life easier for our working parents,” Gov. Kelly noted in the June State of Kansas release. “The case for Kansas businesses to take advantage of these tax credits is clear: Providing child care helps employers attract more job candidates, retain quality employees, and create a diverse, engaged workforce.”

“Expanding this program levels the playing field for small businesses and allows them to compete for talent that will be empowered to put down roots in our communities,” Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes noted in the June State of Kansas release. “There remains plenty of work to do to ensure that Kansans have the support they need as they begin their careers and their families. This child care tax credit is a powerful tool that, if leveraged by our businesses, can radically transform which Kansans can participate in our workforce. Signing HB 2237 is one more way Gov. Kelly has supported child care in Kansas. In June, she announced that her Administration is giving a total of $53 million in bonuses to early child care staff at licensed facilities to thank them for their dedication to Kansas children.” 

“The Children’s Cabinet has been pleased to support the collaboration necessary between multiple state agencies to modernize the fingerprint process for child care providers,” Executive Director Melissa Rooker noted in the State of Kansas release. “We hope this helps reduce the barriers to safe, secure childcare options for Kansas parents and helps child care programs meet staffing demands more quickly and efficiently.”

Other work done to help child care providers included the availability of COVID-19 self-tests last fall. 

“Battelle has been selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to manage the logistics of administering COVID-19 tests for millions of Americans in 16 states through the Midwest Expanded Testing Coordination Hub,” Gov. Kelly noted in an October 2021 release from the State of Kansas. “Until vaccines are approved for our kids, testing is one of the best tools we have to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and child care centers, Child care providers have done excellent work throughout the pandemic to keep our children safe. With this extra assistance, our providers can ensure Kansas families maintain access to safe, quality child care. KDHE recognizes how important it is to provide access to easy, reliable, and rapid testing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and control outbreaks. Testing in child care settings helps identify individuals who have the virus but do not have symptoms and who may be contagious. This testing can support organizations with maintaining normal operations and keeping children, staff, visitors, and volunteers safe.”

“Child care providers across the state have continued to provide this vital service to Kansans,” former KDHE Secretary Lee Norman, noted in the October 2021 State of Kansas release. “We are excited to partner with Battelle to provide another tool for child care providers to use. Through COVID-19 testing, positive cases will be identified earlier to reduce the amount of spread of this virus. Outreach for the Midwest Coordination Center is ramping up this month. Battelle has an extensive team on board ready to assist organizations who serve children in group settings to administer the complete testing process from registering and collecting samples to receiving the results.”