Kansas gets $8.9 million grant to improve early childhood servicesScott Rothschild
Kansas will receive an $8.9 million federal grant to continue efforts to improve early childhood health and education.
In announcing the grant from the Administration for Children and Families, Gov. Laura Kelly said on Friday, “These funds will be imperative in helping to keep up our current momentum as we work to improve our state’s early childhood system.
“This grant is particularly welcome now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an additional degree of stress on early childhood in Kansas. With it, we will continue to fight for the health and safety of children and families in our state.”
The funding is the first installment of a three year renewal of Kansas’s Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5), initiative.
Leaders from the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, the Kansas State Department of Education, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Children and Families began this collaborative work with a PDG B-5 planning grant in January 2019.
The initial grant funded a comprehensive statewide needs assessment that found services to help young Kansans before they start school are inconsistent across the state and many families are struggling to provide the basics for their children. Over 6,100 parents, early childcare and education professionals, civic and business leaders, and community members provided input.
Those findings led to the development of a strategic plan to improve early childhood on numerous levels, such as learning, health care, developmental screenings and parent education.
“After touring the state throughout 2019, it’s clear that although Kansans recognize the importance of high-quality early childhood programs and services, we have work to do,” said Melissa Rooker, executive director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund. “This grant will allow us to focus on implementation of our strategic plan as we work to strengthen our system and achieve our vision that every Kansas child has the best possible start in life.”
Funding from this grant will support systems-alignment, infrastructure, and innovation at the local and state level. Kansans can expect to see investments in activities that build a sustainable infrastructure for the early childhood system, officials said.