Representatives from state agencies, organizations, and community partners from the Kansas Early Childhood Governance System met on January 21, 2022 for the inaugural Kansas Early Childhood Governance Summit. Following the Needs Assessment in 2019 and the All in for Kansas Kids Strategic Plan priority to connect statewide efforts in supporting and providing early childhood services, the Early Childhood Governance Summit provided the opportunity for group representatives to share their work and report how their progress aligns with the direction and goals established in the All in for Kansas Kids Strategic Plan.
The state-level coordination efforts, led by the Kansas Early Childhood Advisory Council, improved the facilitation of interagency and organizational cooperation in federal and state-funded child development, child care, and early childhood education programs and services. With each group’s distinct yet expansive focus areas like health care, behavioral health, and early childhood care, and the system’s current method of providing a broad range of services and supports to families (frequently referred to as a mixed-delivery system ), the summit allowed all participants and stakeholders to see each group’s purpose and the development and advancements being made in all focus areas. Under the shared mission of making the Kansas early childhood system comprehensive in its resources, and to build the system’s capacity to be accessible and inclusive for all Kansas families, these groups convened in the January summit to share their progress, challenges, and goals for 2022:
- Early Childhood Recommendations Panel
- Family Leadership Team
- State Interagency Coordinating Council
- Child Care Systems Improvement Team
- Home Visiting Leadership Group
- Links to Quality
- Governor’s Behavioral Health Services Planning Council’s Children’s Subcommittee
- Maternal Child Health Council
- Workforce Development Advisory Group
- Professional Development Implementation Team
View the entire recording of the Early Childhood Governance Summit and see below for the graphic recording of the summit.
With support provided by the Kansas Early Childhood Advisory Council’s governance structure and Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) funding, many groups were able to increase and amplify the scope of their work by aligning standards and processes across the state. By centering the voices and needs of families in Kansas, greater system coordination and collaboration identified service gaps and opportunities that expanded education and trainings, services, and resources for both service providers and the families they serve.
The ongoing crisis of COVID-19 continued to present full-scale organizational challenges for many groups. The impacts of the pandemic have increased the need to assess mental and physical health, and navigating the risk and protective limitations to provide safe, remote care remains difficult for both service professionals and those seeking services.
With the emergency response of the pandemic becoming a long-term endeavor and priority, many groups have assessed their work over the past two years and seen where their efforts converged. With their time in re-evaluating and responding to strains in the system, several groups have learned where they can be more dynamic in building out ways to ensure access to quality early childhood services, which includes increased support for professional workers, expanding location and service options, and continuing to center community voice and engagement.