According to the Kansas Children’s Cabinet Needs Assessment, 67 percent of children ages 5 and younger in Kansas live in households where all adults are working. And in a national 2021 poll, 36 percent of households with children reported their children feeling depressed, anxious, and stressed, and having serious problems sleeping, and 36 percent of adults in households with children reported they experienced serious challenges meeting both their work and family responsibilities. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed families and early childhood systems to the very brink of their respective resources. Although united in the goal to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children to grow and learn, parents, caregivers, and early childhood professionals in Douglas County lacked a shared platform to share their resources, expertise, and lived experiences with each other.
With Quality Subgrant funding, the Community Children’s Center worked with several partners to develop TYKES Douglas County, an online resource hub, for parents, caregivers, and professionals working in early childhood. Each of the above stakeholders have distinct and critical contributions in supporting early childhood in Kansas, but a lack of a trusted network can leave many feeling isolated in their efforts and or vulnerable to misinformation. By providing accessible and reliable information, TYKES Douglas County elevates the experiences of communities in Douglas County while also expanding visibility to established resources and networks that are dialed-in to serving local communities. Encompassing physical and mental health, education, and family well-being, TYKES Douglas County covers the expansive topic of early childhood development in a comprehensive approach that is easy to follow and strives to ensure that no family feels left alone.
After an intensive discovery phase, TYKES Douglas County evolved into an opportunity to collaborate with many county partners to help build its resource hub to be responsive in meeting family needs:
- Lawrence Public Schools USD 497
- Lawrence Public Library
- Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas
- LMH Health
- Lawrence Chamber of Commerce
- Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health
- Imagemakers, Inc.
- Unite Us
These partnerships and the hub’s linked social service agencies were critical in envisioning TYKES Douglas County as an integral pillar supporting families in their search for services and supports as well as providing direct representation of their perspectives and experiences. By targeting stakeholders in early childhood development while also prioritizing community connection, TYKES Douglas County is now live and is positioned to help strengthen families with tools, resources, and opportunities to connect with each other and with educational and service organizations across the county.
“TYKES Douglas County is about building a sense of a community around the shared goal of giving our children the best possible start in life. It is our hope that what starts out as an online experience builds a bridge to an agency and human connection to strengthen the early childhood safety net for our county” — Kim Polson, Community Children’s Center executive director
To learn more about TYKES Douglas County and how to support investments in early childhood in Douglas County, email Kim Polson, Community Children’s Center executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With assistance from Quality Subgrants and its partnerships, TYKES Douglas County has the scale and resources to grow into other counties in Kansas. By expanding its network of community partners, TYKES Douglas County can further develop the content and reach of its resource hub and support cross-sector efforts to sustain investments in the early childhood system in Kansas.
About Quality Subgrants
Quality Subgrants equip communities with the resources they need to ensure every Kansas child thrives. Organizations that received Quality Subgrants address needs and gaps through locally-driven ideas and approaches. In 2020, Quality Subgrants were awarded across five categories. The subgrants address All in for Kansas Kids Strategic Plan Goal 2: Community-level Collaboration; Goal 5: Capacity and Access; Goal 6: Workforce; and Goal 7: Quality and Environments.