The First 1,000 Days

May 5, 2021

The first 1,000 days

Research tells us the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from birth to age three, are the most critical for brain development.

More than a million neural connections a second are forming during this miraculous time. Long before we think they’re paying attention, babies are building their social-emotional, physical, and cognitive futures by mimicking ours. Every environment they are exposed to is a learning environment, for better or worse. We know that the quality of interactions a child has in their first 1,000 days impacts the rest of their lives. 

If both parents work, a child can spend 8-10 hours a day in child care. Parents want a safe, reliable, and engaging place for their children during these hours so they can report to work without worry.

We notice if the place looks clean.

We check out things like childproofing, hours of operation, and maybe the lunch schedule.

But we don’t always think about the provider’s training in developmentally-appropriate play.

And, for all the parents who find the perfect placement for their child, too many are left without options due to prohibitive costs, lack of available space for their child, or the need for non-traditional care.

Difficulties finding child care for children with special health care needs, infants and toddlers, or non-traditional work hours are just a few of the problems that leave parents in a bind.

To provide a high-quality educational environment for young children requires training, but low wages and lack of benefits mean it is extremely difficult to recruit people to the profession. Retail and hospitality industry workers often make more than most child care providers, without the stress and responsibility to properly mold and shape young minds. Barriers to acquiring the appropriate early childhood credentials include cost, remote geography, time constraints, and lack of a clearly identifiable pathway.

Our 2019 Needs Assessment documented the challenges of recruitment and retention to the early childhood profession in Kansas. To ensure we are providing the highest quality early learning opportunities for all children, it is high time we shift our approach to this sector. Child care is a public good because it is such a critical piece of our economic infrastructure. We must treat it as such.

The work of our All In For Kansas Kids Strategic Plan is ongoing, and we are committed to transformational change. We are embarking on year two of our three-year Preschool Development Grant Birth – 5 (renewal) activities. Work is underway to ensure we are using this one-time funding to reorient our early childhood care and education system to be better and stronger than it was pre-pandemic. Collaboration among state agencies has led to coordinated, federally-funded COVID relief efforts. Given the deadlines for spending these emergency relief dollars, we too have a critical period of approximately 1,000 days to make a significant difference.

We are working to ensure families have an easier time navigating the array of programs and services because we want every child to have the best possible start to life.


  • Early Childhood Block Grant FY24
    This grant opportunity is to provide early childhood services for Kansas children and families ages birth to kindergarten entry, as well as services for prenatal and family supports. […]
  • Examining the Present and Future of Child Care in Kansas
    In our role as strategist, the Children's Cabinet commissioned Examining the Present and Future of Child Care in Kansas to encourage and facilitate innovative, collaborative planning. The report was developed by the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research and Capita. […]
  • Building a shared online resource for parents, caregivers, and early childhood professionals in Douglas County
    TYKES Douglas County provides a comprehensive online hub of local and expert resources for early childhood development stakeholders seeking community and support. […]
  • Early Childhood and Literacy
    This Issue Brief discusses the reasons for and actions behind promoting literacy beginning in early childhood, and it makes the case for increased investment in children during the early years so that all Kansas children are equipped for success in grade school and beyond. […]
  • Connecting and Engaging With Families in Kansas
    The Early Childhood Policy Matters podcast features the Our Tomorrows story gathering project, how it was influenced by the Preschool Development Grant Birth - 5 initiative, and what it means for the future of Kansas. […]


Relative Care Providers - your Child Care Workforce Appreciation Bonus application period has begun. Details from @ccakansas below.
"While most providers have not chosen to work in this sector for money, they still deserve a living wage, adequate benefits, & options for ownership & professional advancement in the industry." Our report ⬇️ #ChildCare #Kansas @capita_social @CPPRMedia
We frequently reference our Strategic Plan. Learn more about our map for Kansas' #EarlyChildhood future here: #AllinforKansasKids KCCTF photo