Experiences and environment during the earliest years of a child’s life are responsible for shaping the brain and setting a foundation for everything ahead. For all Kansans, the path to a brighter future depends upon safe, educational, attentive care for ages birth to 5, yet for those living in poverty, access to affordable, high-quality child care may be the single most important factor in making positive change for their families. Whether provided by family, in a center, or in a child care home, improving the quality of child care options in our communities is a key to bettering our state overall.
On February 2, 2016, over 200 child advocates, child care providers, community and business leaders, and policymakers convened for the second annual Symposium for Early Success. Hosted by the Partnership for Early Success, this event was created to elevate the conversation around issues impacting the state’s youngest children, with a focus this year on the importance of high-quality child care.
Four Kansas employers were recognized for their efforts to provide or enhance child care options, access, or affordability for their employees or within their communities. The 2016 Business Awards for Innovative Child Care Solutions honored:
- The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, for promoting the development and adoption of Spanish-language training modules for child care providers and promoting in-home child care providers as small businesses in their communities.
- Topeka Housing Authority, for including on-site child care services for working parents or parents looking for jobs.
- Salina Regional Health Center, for conducting a community-wide, $6 million capital campaign called Every Child Matters to build, furnish, and equip the Donna L. Vanier’s Children’s Center.
- Hill’s Pet Nutrition, for implementing a series of family-friendly policies, making it much easier for working parents to care for their children.
These employers are examples of the impact that is possible when the unique needs of a region are assessed and ideas turn into collaborative action. Each has recognized that building prosperous communities requires an effective workforce – which is best comprised of supported and strengthened families.