Practicum Highlight: Krysta Harvey, MPH’18
Community: Kearny County, Kansas; Population: 4,000
Opportunity: Working as an administrative services manager at Kearny County Hospital (KCH), Harvey and her colleagues heard stories about how hard it was to find quality child care. The hospital also had reportedly experienced challenges recruiting new employees to move to the area due to difficulties finding reliable child care. Access to affordable, high-quality child care can have far-reaching effects on a child’s, and on a family’s, overall health, well-being, and economic stability. An avalanche of research has shown that development in early childhood lays the foundation for health and wellbeing, and parents without access to affordable, high-quality child care may not be able to work outside the home or work full-time. A child care shortage also can take its toll on the strength and viability of a community.
“We wanted to know if this was a whole community problem or if there’s something we could do as a health care institution to make it easier for people to live here and raise healthy families here,” Harvey says. “In rural counties like ours, maintaining population can be a struggle. Our town is about 2,000 and our county is about 4,000 right now.”
Health Impact and Next Steps:
Working under the direction of KCH leadership, Harvey was a part of team that conducted multiple focus group sessions in diverse venues throughout Kearny County. She then worked with researchers from the University of Kansas School of Medicine to analyze and prepare data for a presentation to community stakeholders and potential partners (to KCH) in early childhood work—a diverse group that included local employers, state agencies, and local schools, among others. With the focus group research confirming that parents needed additional support in child care and parenting resources, stakeholders agreed on the need to build a community child care center (and program) that serves all families in the county, including those with special challenges. While the community stakeholders pursue funding for the center, a design team—comprised of hospital and school administrators, local home daycare providers, and other partners identified at the stakeholder gathering— is looking at utilizing existing resources that can be leveraged to support families in the interim. As part of the next steps, University of Kansas School of Architecture also will draw up plans for a center that meets all needs identified by the design team, including meeting the needs of families with special challenges.
“If we do build a center (and a program) at the hospital, we want to make sure it is accessible to everyone, including our families in which English is a second language, those who need financial assistance, and children with special medical needs,” Harvey says.
POSTED 1/2/2018 AT 02:19 PM IN #practicum
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