WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A total of $53 million will soon be distributed to child care providers across the state. Some owners are saying these bonuses are appreciated but overdue.

“I have advocated for my staff and for the child care industry for the last few years, even before the pandemic. It is great to finally be heard and be seen for the hard work that they do in the classrooms every day,” said Courtney Cantrell, owner of Family First Child Care.

Cantrell says the bonuses are needed to keep workers and child care centers open.

“Really, they’re helping raise your children for eight or more hours a day. If they weren’t there and they don’t come to work we can’t open classrooms and we can’t add more children for enrollment,” Cantrell explained.

Staffing has been a struggle for several centers as they compete with other higher-paying industries for workers.

“I have other clients that do drop in sometimes because their center had to close because there’s not enough staff,” said Kanetha Brown, K-Bee’s Daycare owner.

Kelly’s announcement to give away up to $2,500 bonuses to those in the child care field is bringing a wave of relief.

“It’s a whole extra paycheck or more,” Cantrell said.

“It is needed, just to keep the upkeep of the cleaning supplies or just extra materials when you do have more children,” Brown said.

While the bonuses are appreciated, Cantrell believes more must be done to help keep talent long-term.

“We cannot give long-term pay raises with short-term funding. We really need to know what is in the future for us so that we can promise these workers to continue their careers and stay with us,” Cantelll said.

The amount given to workers will be based on their hours.

Applications will be sent out to eligible child care providers in a couple of weeks.