for the love of children
Bonita Adams and Faye Martin established the Appalachian Early Child Care Center in Whitesburg, KY in 2000. “Our kids get a lot here that they might not get elsewhere,” explains Faye with pride. The Center has a Level 2 STAR rating, a measure of child care quality that is higher than the minimum licensing requirements. “We give these children an early learning experience where they can be nurtured in a loving environment. They come out of here ready to learn in school. It’s a ministry,” says Bonita.
But the Appalachian Early Child Care Center is a business, as well — a business that has struggled. “The local banks wouldn’t loan us money for start-up costs. When they looked at our books, they laughed and said ‘We know you and trust you, but you can’t afford to pay us back what we’d loan you.’ We didn’t know what we were going to do. But within a week or two, MACED loaned us $160,000.”
The financial struggles continued beyond initial start-up costs. “Our biggest challenge is always money. There have been times when we didn’t know how we were going to make payroll. But it’s hard enough for the parents to make it, so if we increase our fees we would lose children. That’s happened in the past. We have parents who are barely keeping their heads afloat even though they work. Child care subsidies aren’t enough.” These struggles are reflected in MACED’s Child Care in Appalachian Kentucky report, which recommends an increase in financial support and incentives and more state help for child-care workers, managers, and businesses.
What keeps the two going, despite the economic hardship? “Our love for the children” says Bonita emphatically. MACED is doing our part to help ensure that that the children of Appalachian Kentucky continue to receive the high-quality early care that is such a crucial component of thriving and sustainable communities.