This is the Way
It has been a trying year, but as Master Yoda would say, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Your team at the Kansas Children’s Cabinet & Trust Fund took this to heart over the past year and are continuing our “doing” in 2021.
Reflections from the Director…
Melissa Rooker, Children’s Cabinet Executive Director
Although the pandemic dealt Kansans serious challenges in 2020, I am optimistic about what the future holds for our children and families. That may strike some as strange given we are still in the midst of a public health emergency unlike anything we have ever experienced. However, we are well positioned to emerge from crisis stronger for the lessons learned and the groundwork laid in 2019 through our Preschool Development Grant Birth-5 needs assessment and strategic plan.
That federal grant gave four state agencies an opportunity for powerful collaboration. The Children’s Cabinet teamed up with the Kansas Department of Education, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to hear from over 6,000 Kansans, informing our statewide early childhood care and education Needs Assessment. The information gathered became the basis of our five-year All In For Kansas Kids Strategic Plan.
As we were sheltering at home in April, we received the happy news that Kansas had been chosen to receive a three-year renewal of our federal Preschool Development Birth-5 grant, bringing in nearly $27 million for implementation of our strategic plan between now and 2023.
In 2020, Kansas early childhood partners drew together (on Zoom) to offer crisis support for families and emergency relief to providers across the state. Our regular portfolio of work continued, albeit at a slower pace. When we looked at our community of service providers and the families they served, we saw flexibility, resilience, and adaptability.
With the help of federal COVID-19 relief dollars, we were able to continue our 2020 programming on behalf of Kansas children and families.
While unbelievably difficult, the COVID crisis has served as proof of concept for our work. We were able to leverage a strong foundation built on careful planning, research, and collaboration. We were able to pivot quickly to provide rescue and relief to our early childhood care and education system. And we are now setting our sights on a recovery that strengthens our system even more to better serve Kansas families.