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Kentucky

The Alliance’s lead ally in Kentucky, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1983 to harness citizen voices to advocate for vastly improved schools across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Today, they focus on informing the public and policymakers, studying priority issues, and engaging business leaders, families, students, and other citizens to demand educational excellence and equity from the earliest years through postsecondary education.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 47% (222,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL (2021). This number represents a decrease from 51% (244,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

Kentucky’s biennial budget for fiscal years 2023 and 2024 includes general fund spending of $14.1 billion in fiscal 2023, an increase of 3.6 percent over the prior year, and $14.2 billion in fiscal 2024, a 0.6 percent increase. The official enacted forecast for the biennium estimates general fund revenues of $13.8 billion in fiscal 2023, a 0.0 percent growth rate over fiscal 2022, and $14.2 billion in fiscal 2024, a 2.9 percent growth rate over the prior year. The enacted budget also notes that recurring spending in both years is less than recurring revenues, with recurring revenues exceeding recurring spending by 3.5 percent in fiscal 2024.3

Key Revenue Sources:

    • Personal Income Tax (5.0%)
    • State Sales Tax (6.0%)

Political Alignment: Divided

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was a Democrat.4

Types of Ballot Measures Available:5  Two

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Legislature-Initiated State Statutes – Appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.

Key State Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Prichard Committee Kentucky

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:6

2023 Policy Progress:

The Prichard Committee is united by our Big Bold Ask to increase education investment by $1 billion by 2026. The Prichard Committee and our team of statewide partners are engaged in statewide data collection to underscore the needs of Kentucky’s early learning sector. Additionally, we are leading an effort to expand early education via a mixed-delivery system designed to grow access to early learning for children, to support their working parents, and to stabilize the early education sector.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:7

The Prichard Committee and our team of statewide partners mobilized to produce the report, A Fragile Ecosystem IV: Will Kentucky Child Care Survive When the Dollars Run Out? The report filled a critical gap in Kentucky’s understanding of the use of federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) dollars and what the elapse of federal dollars will mean for the Commonwealth’s early childhood sector.

The Kentucky Division of Child Care plans to send an additional COVID-era stabilization payment to child care providers. The stabilization payment is enough to hold over child care providers until January 2024. The Prichard Committee is well positioned to push for the completion of its Big Bold Ask in Early Childhood Education as the 2024 budget session begins.

A bi-partisan coalition of state representatives convened the Kentucky Early Childhood Education Taskforce. The taskforce completed their six-month investigation of Kentucky’s early childhood sector with recommendations aligned to the need to expand public preschool utilizing public-private partnerships among other key priorities in the sector.

The passage of the Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership (EECP) created a $15M pilot program that incentivized private employers to pay for half of the cost of child care for their employees through a matching fund. The EECP is now operational and is accepting applications from employers.

SB 156, an act relating to a statewide reading research center, passed—building on last year’s passage of the Kentucky Read to Succeed Act to improve early literacy.

The Greater Owensboro Partnership for Early Development, a local initiative designed to produce early education outcomes, continues to make progress. Most recently, the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce marshalled local CEOs to discuss employer-based child care options. The group is using research regarding employer-based child care options from partners in Kentucky and peer states from The Alliance network to guide its work. Local citizens have taken the reins of the project.

Moving forward, The Prichard Committee will release its next survey documenting Kentucky’s workforce participation crisis and its link to the child care access crisis, voter attitudes toward early learning investment, and support grassroots parents in building their advocacy skills. Prichard looks forward to substantial engagement of the parent, business, and nonprofit communities ahead of the 2024 state budget session.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Kentucky, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence , is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas: 

Early Care and Education

Preschool and Pre-K

K-3rd Grade

Child Care

Child Care Workforce 

Child and
Maternal Health

Early Intervention (0-3)

Maternal Health

Family
Supports

Child Welfare

Family Economic Security

Home Visiting

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Early Childhood Finance and Cost Modeling

Early Childhood Governance

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2023 Enacted Budgets, September 20, 2022.

4 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

5 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

6 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

7 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

Kentucky
Kentucky
Kentucky

More State Demographic Data:

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Kentucky