Increasing Childcare Slots Availability

Childcare providers are able to increase child capacity,
thanks to The Healthy Bourbon County Action Team.

Recent funding from the Bourbon County Childcare Coalition, an initiative formed by The Healthy Bourbon County Action Team in Fort Scott, already is making a big difference to the capacity of local childcare providers at a time when Kansas is facing a childcare crisis.

“A recent survey by the coalition found that 95 percent of adults seeking childcare said they would return to the workforce if they had access to high quality childcare,” said Jody Hoener, HBCAT president and CEO. “Childcare is incredibly important not just to our economy, but to the wellbeing of our families.”

The survey found that individuals seeking care for their children are on an average of nearly three waitlists and have been for more than 23 weeks.

This fall, HBCAT was awarded a $45,000 grant from Child Care Aware of Kansas and an additional $3,500 from the Patterson Family Foundation to address capacity.

Within just a few weeks, those funds had been passed on to the coalition, which worked with local providers to understand what they needed to be able to create new slots.

“Ultimately, with the help of this grant, childcare providers will be able to increase 51 childcare slots,” said Rachel Carpenter, HBCAT executive director.

Of the funding, $32,000 is being spent on capacity-building equipment and materials at numerous providers.

Among them: Lana’s Daycare, owned by Lana Beerbower, where the funding was used to buy a larger refrigerator, which increased food storage to accommodate additional children.

The daycare also was able to expand activity spaces to accommodate additional children through the purchase of an outdoor playhouse, activity table, play mat, drawing mat, and carpet.

For Tiny Tots, owned by Susie Castleberry, it was used to buy a bigger food pantry, additional individual cubbies for childrens’ belongings, and an extended playground with safety fencing.

“That will enable us to increase our slots because we can have play areas for both toddlers and older children, and we’ll be able to have more food on hand to serve them,” Castleberry said. “It will help us comply with regulations and serve more children safely.”

“We’re grateful and super excited,” she said. “We’ve been wanting to be able to help more families.”

At Happy Kids Daycare, owned by Lindsay Knopp and Afton Brown, funding was used for curriculum and staff training, as well as salaries for additional employment.

“This means the ability to serve more children in a more impactful way, and for our teachers to have the tools they need to be effective,” Knopp said.

“Having a proven curriculum and early intervention to use with the children we serve is huge for them. It’s a building block that will better prepare them for school with modules in social, emotional, and academic areas, and in daily skills that will prepare them for success.”

Funding also will be spent by the coalition on a new provider recruitment coordinator ($2,000) and on quarterly training for providers, including materials and keynote speakers ($11,000).

About The HBCAT

The mission of The HBCAT is to increase access to healthy food and physical activity, promote commercial tobacco cessation, enhance quality of life and encourage economic growth. The problems of health inequity and social injustice are complex in nature and inextricably linked to key economic indicators. A healthy workforce is a prerequisite for economic success in any industry and in all cities.

The HBCAT formed the Bourbon County Childcare Coalition to bring high quality, affordable childcare to the county.

HBCAT is building up the childcare infrastructure, which is a critical piece to workforce development. Affordable childcare will open opportunities for individuals to use The HBCAT’s services at the Center for Economic Growth.

As a result, they will have access to career opportunities through Southeast KANSASWORKS or to create economic stability through starting a business through PSU Small Business Development Center.

Learn more at Find HBCAT on Facebook at

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