BOURBON COUNTY, Kans. — New grant funds are allowing Bourbon County childcare facilities to take care of more kids.

“I was a young single mom and I had two very small children and I didn’t have any family in the area. And child care was a nightmare for me,” said Jody Hoener, CEO.

And that’s something Hoener wants to change. The Healthy Bourbon County Action Team recently created a Bourbon County Childcare Coalition to bring high quality affordable childcare to the county. This fall, they were awarded nearly $50,000 in grant funding from Child Care Aware of Kansas and the Patterson Family Foundation.

“Through this grant. It was really tailored to the needs of the child care providers. So I was able to meet with the provider to see what materials they needed to be able to increase their capacity,” said Rachel Carpenter.

A portion of that will be spent on capacity-building equipment and materials at numerous providers. In all, they were able to help 10 different childcare providers add space for 51 more kids.

“We had all of these childcare providers and bringing them together to write a grant together to meet everybody’s needs. So we’re lifting up all childcare to increase the number of childcare slots, increase access to for our workforce,” said Hoener.

The coalition did a community survey — it found that individuals seeking care for their children are on an average of nearly three wait lists and have been for more than 23 weeks.

“We had over 200 respondents and adults seeking childcare 94% of them said they would enter the workforce if they had childcare available,” said Carpenter.

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

“We want to make sure the kids are safe and we want to make sure that childcare professionals are adequately trained and have the tools necessary to build up these young minds into productive adults,” said Hoener.