The collaborative spirit that moved us along our journey of fact finding and planning in recent months continues to drive us today as we initiate a new governance structure and get to work. The governor recognized the statutory role of the Children’s Cabinet as the coordinator of our state’s early childhood care and education system and, in early 2020, designated it as the Kansas Early Childhood Advisory Council54. The Children’s Cabinet is uniquely positioned to fulfill the Advisory Council role and provide oversight for early childhood systems building, including implementation of this strategic plan.
The Children’s Cabinet has existing structures in place to communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders, to coordinate policies and programs across funding sources and agencies, and to gather and synthesize input from stakeholders. The Children’s Cabinet Board represents appointments by both the Kansas governor and the Kansas legislature and includes members from key state agencies that support Kansas children and families (Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Department for Children and Families, Kansas Board of Regents, Kansas State Department of Education, Kansas Supreme Court, and the Kansas Department of Corrections).
View the governance and decision-making structure in place to implement this plan.
As the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, the Children’s Cabinet:
- Convenes a State Directors Team to administer state agency activities in the areas of policy, funding, regulation, and programming.
- Convenes, directs, and appoints members to the Early Childhood Recommendations Panel55, an advisory group of volunteers with early childhood expertise whose roles and affiliations are designated by executive order.
- Conducts a periodic statewide needs assessment concerning the quality and availability of services for children from birth to age five.
- Creates ongoing opportunities for collaboration and cross-agency participation of those involved in child development, child care, and early childhood education programs and services.
- Fosters a public-service culture that recognizes the value of early childhood care and education.
The Children’s Cabinet, now the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, has been deeply involved from the beginning of the needs assessment process through the translation of needs into action for this strategic plan. They will oversee implementation and an annual review process. The Children’s Cabinet and State Directors Team serve as decision-makers, elevating items that need approval by agency leadership, the governor, legislature, or Kansas State Board of Education. The Early Childhood Recommendations Panel and the Early Childhood Stakeholders Group serve as champions for strengthening the early childhood system in their local communities and provide input that includes the perspectives of a wide variety of workgroups, committees, parents, and providers. The governance structure offers a place for those committees established by statute, such as the State Interagency Coordinating Council, and for those developed around an initiative that may be time-limited. This structure clarifies how to elevate both challenges and innovative ideas. The governance approach is designed to be attuned and responsive to the changing needs of Kansas children and families.
Changemakers and Champions
This plan offers a dynamic, focused, and cohesive structure to continually evolve as more voices are heard across the state. We must actively engage champions and inspire changemakers to carry the work forward. The plan is designed to be both responsive and future-focused.
Ongoing public input will be solicited to help state leaders keep their finger on the pulse, so we can adapt as needed. This will happen through status updates and reviews by the Children’s Cabinet Board, which meets six times annually in meetings that are open to the public in-person and virtually.
Kansas early childhood champions have always been committed to innovation. This plan celebrates that spirit and encourages future-focused thinking by prioritizing internal alignment, emphasizing public-private partnerships, investing in workforce and collaborative data systems, and exploring policy impact. By paying attention to changes in population demographics, investments, and policies that affect families, state leaders can anticipate and communicate both positive and negative influences on the system. Rather than acting after the fact, Kansas will be poised to be proactive and coordinate efforts across partners and stakeholders.
We must actively engage champions and inspire changemakers to lead this work.
The plan also includes structures to continually inform the process and create protected space for trying new ideas without disrupting existing reporting structures and workflows. This includes the Early Childhood Stakeholders Group, which is open to any interested Kansas early childhood stakeholder and convenes following the Children’s Cabinet meeting, and the Early Childhood Recommendations Panel, which meets monthly. Both will routinely monitor plan progress and generate new ideas to address challenges or changing environments.
We will continue our ongoing communication efforts, including webinars, weekly emails, social media, and online share forms. These channels offer a platform for all Kansans to be informed, ask questions, elevate challenges, and celebrate Bright Spots.
Resources to Support and Sustain This Journey
Achieving the vision of every child thrives requires significant resources and broad-based support from both public and private sources. Intense engagement is necessary to bolster investments and immediately put those resources to work.
Looking inward, we will audit program requirements that stifle collaboration and restrict us from maximizing funds. We will make recommendations for policy and practice changes to eliminate barriers. We will identify opportunities for alignment to reduce duplication across funding streams.
Looking outward, we will seek ways to increase business involvement and help establish and promote public-private partnerships. We are already exploring ways to create a state public-private partnership endowment that could serve as an incubator for new ideas.
We are committed to making data-informed decisions about the most effective and impactful strategies, using our available resources wisely, and redirecting resources when it makes sense — in response to new findings or evaluation outcomes.
Specific examples of financial resources in place to support this work include:
- 1-800-CHILDREN (the state-level centralized access point), developmental screenings, staff support for the State Interagency Coordinating Council and local councils, and the Kansas Family Leadership Team58 are supported by coordinated funding from state agencies.
- Care coordinationand developmental screenings are funded through Medicaid reimbursement, Title V Maternal and Child Health, the Kansas State Department of Education, and Children’s Cabinet early childhood funding.
- In June 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the school funding system approved by the Kansas Legislature and governor is constitutionally equitable and adequate, ending a decade of school finance litigation. The new formula increases funding available to schools to invest in early childhood programming.
- The workforce registry will be developed and maintained through a coordinated effort, led by the Children’s Cabinet, and including Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) and Title V Maternal and Child Health funds, and Child Care Development Funds.
- Significant investments will be made to develop data systems and establish the governance for an early childhood integrated data system. The Children’s Cabinet, in partnership with contributing agencies, will help coordinate funds to support this work.
This is a five-year plan, effective April 2020 through December 2024. Specific work plans and action steps, as they take shape from various community groups, coalitions, and agency work groups, may be on accelerated or phased timelines. Some strategies and tactics may rely on others to happen first, or may hinge on decisions made by local or state government.
This plan is ambitious and future-focused, but it is also fueled by work that has already begun. We will formally review the plan annually and update it as necessary to respond to changing environments, resources, and results. In practice, updates to specific strategies and tactics will likely happen more frequently because the plan must be responsive to be effective. We must adapt and adjust in response to evolving circumstances. Our guiding principles will ground us. Ongoing stakeholder input and engagement will guide our way.
We know that there is no time to lose, and we must continue to harness momentum, champion the importance of early childhood, and seize the day to make meaningful and lasting change.
View the complete All in for Kansas Kids Strategic Plan, or navigate sections using the menu to the left.