Our Commitment to Equity
The Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund (Children’s Cabinet) recognizes that equitable life outcomes start with an early childhood system that acknowledges the fact that children and families experience disproportionate access and opportunity across race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical and developmental abilities, home language, and geography. Equity is an organizing principle of the All in for Kansas Kids Strategic Plan.
The Children’s Cabinet is committed to:
- meeting the diverse and unique needs of all Kansas families by coordinating systems-wide approaches to ensure services are available and accessible (See State-level Collaboration in the All in for Kansas Kids Strategic Plan)
- elevating family voice and choice (See Family Knowledge and Choice in the All in for Kansas Kids Strategic Plan)
- using data in ethical, timely, and responsive ways in partnership with communities and a broad array of experts
- equitably funding programs (See Who We Fund: CIF, ECBG, CBCAP)
Using data to help ensure equitable access and impact
The Children’s Cabinet is committed to using data in ethical, timely, and responsive ways in partnership with communities and a broad array of experts. For each of the types of funded programs (CIF, CBCAP, ECBG) the Children’s Cabinet aims to explicitly focus on equity as we gather, analyze, and act upon data. We recognize the array of early childhood stakeholders in Kansas each come to this work with different perspectives and experiences. The dialogue around achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion, therefore, must be multi-faceted, ongoing, and will evolve over time. At the Children’s Cabinet we collect and analyze data with this mindset using a variety of methods and measures as described below.
Children’s Initiatives Fund (CIF) Programs
Demographics, Socioeconomics, and Geographic Data
CIF programs submit data on populations served by age group and county as part of the annual Accountability Process. Additionally, equity is included as a topic of the annual program interviews where each program describes in detail how their services and mission are geared to impact children and families in Kansas. Programs also submit any reports produced for other purposes that describe data collection and equity information.
Beginning with the 2023 Accountability Process, equity will be a key focus of research questions guiding the various elements of data collection for the Accountability Process.
CIF-funded programs serve a broad range of populations experiencing risk factors. Data are collected separately by each CIF program to understand the unique needs and risks of their service population. Several CIF programs target services to children at risk or already experiencing developmental delays to minimize further delay and promote healthy development. Additional programs target services and interventions that help mitigate risk factors such as those associated with income, education, and foster care.
Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) Programs
Equity has been a central theme for ECBG funding from the beginning. Initial data mapping helped identify communities with the most need, and ongoing data collection helps us understand the kinds of services families are receiving across the state.
Map of direct service provision through ECBG
Demographic and Socioeconomic Data
- Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Age, Education, Language
- Marital, Military, and Employment Status
- Income, Free & Reduced-Price Lunch Status
- # of people and children in household
- Housing Status (stable, temporary, homeless/shelter)
- Migrant Status
- Teen Parents
- Caregiver and Children Health Insurance Status
- Children in Foster Care/Out-of-Home Care
- Children At-Risk for Established Developmental Delay
- Child participating in Part B Assistance
- Child participating in Part C Early Intervention Services
ECBG investments support families that experience at least one of the following risk factors, and in 2021, 44% of the families served had three or more risk factors:
- Family income qualifying for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program
- Children in foster care/custody of a relative/out of home/DCF
- Children and families whose primary language is not English
- Caregivers with less than a high school education
- Children at risk for developmental delay or who have an established delay
- Teen parents
- Homeless families
- Migrant families
- Custodial parent is unmarried
- Children without health insurance
Community-Based Child Abuse and Neglect (CBCAP) Programs
All CBCAP-funded programs are required to outline plans in their grant applications for maximizing the participation of at least one of the following special populations:
- Racial and ethnic minorities
- Children and adults with disabilities
- Homeless families or those at risk of homelessness
- Adult former victims of child abuse, neglect, or domestic violence
- Fathers and male caregivers
They must also meaningfully partner with parents/caregivers or other individuals with lived experience to co-design services and programs, implementation and operations, and evaluation.
Programs conduct outreach to special populations as part of their primary and secondary prevention efforts. These programs collect a variety of demographic and socioeconomic data on populations historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and/or racial and geographic disparities.
Highlights from other Children’s Cabinet work
Kansas Data Trust
The first Authorized Project of the Kansas Early Childhood Data Trust, Early Childhood as Prevention, is a collaboration between the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and the Kansas Department for Children and Families. The project investigates whether participation in ECBG or CBCAP is associated with a reduction in removal into foster care. A critical component of this work has been understanding how characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and disability shape family trajectories through these systems. Researchers at the University of Kansas are partnering with the Children’s Cabinet and DCF on an ongoing basis to identify critical questions and understand the implications of results for decision-making.
Kansas Thriving Families
In response to data demonstrating persistent inequity in the child welfare system, Kansas state-level partners are working with national-level partners to prioritize family well-being services in hopes of reducing our reliance foster care and family separation. Over the past decade, there was a 47% rise in children in foster care in Kansas, with rates of removal among the highest in the nation. Children of color in Kansas made up a disproportionate percentage of children in care – 15% of black children in care compared to 6% of the population. The Thriving Families Safer Children movement promotes comprehensive changes to the child welfare system aimed at eliminating racial and socioeconomic disparities.
Dolly Parton Imagination Library
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library connects more than 42,500 children with the gift of books by mailing a free, age-specific book each month to registered children from birth to age 5. Research has shown that a significantly higher percentage of children consistently participating in the Imagination Library were considered as ready for kindergarten. New funding will enable the program to reach even more Kansas children. Reading and access to books improves educational outcomes for young children, and expanding access to the Imagination Library to every Kansas child under the age of five – no matter the family’s income level, demographics, geography, or background – will help overcome disparities.
Child Care and Food Deserts Mapping
The Child Care and Food Deserts: Kansas At-a-Glance 2022 map illustrates where child care deserts and food deserts overlap to help early childhood care and education leaders identify areas of acute need. As of December 2021, 37% of Kansans lived in a child care desert. Fifteen counties across Kansas had census tracts where families experienced challenges with both child care and food access. The map has been used by the Kansas state legislature and the Children’s Cabinet in their approach to grow capacity around the issue of child care in the state. Additionally, demographic data from the 2015-2019 ACS indicates that there are 223,443 people living in areas that are both a food and childcare desert, of which 18,844 are under age 5.