28 March 2024 | Early Learning

A Compromise on House Sub. for House Sub. for SB 96

By Emily Barnes | March 28, 2024; Updated April 4, 2024

House Sub. for House Sub. for SB 96, amended by the House of Representatives, showed the power of Kansans’ ability to use their voices and collaborate across the political aisle. Initially set to recklessly deregulate child care and restructure the proposed Office of Early Childhood, it now sets a path in the right direction for the early learning system.

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After the House's amendment, what does the bill include?

  • Office of Early Childhood: The Governor’s proposal was a standalone agency, which was proposed by multiple state agencies, early learning professionals, and the Early Childhood Transition Task Force. The Office was set to be under the Department of Commerce, but the House’s amendment changed the Office’s structure as the Governor’s original proposal under HB 2785

  • Licensing Specialist Certification: Addressing child care provider concerns about inconsistencies during inspections of child care facilities, the bill mandates KDHE to create a licensing specialist certification. This includes regulations on professional development and continued education for licensing specialists, ensuring consistent interpretation of regulations across the state.  

  • Professional Development and Training Hours Requirement and Reduction: The bill reduces education credential requirements and professional development training hours for child care staff. This reduces the expected qualifications for staff and lowers the number of required training hours per year to 10. The bill moves this requirement from regulation into law. 

  • Youth Out of School Time Program: The bill addresses barriers for school age drop-in programs. Now referred to as “Youth Out of School” time, the language in the bill seeks to reduce barriers to programs for school age children when operated in school buildings. 

  • Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The bill now includes an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, offering parents much-needed money back on their taxes to put toward child care expenses.  

  • KEY Fund and Children’s Initiatives Fund: The language added states the Legislature has oversight of and may appropriate money from these funds.  

  • 15 Passenger Van Language: The bill removes a ban on 15 passenger vans while transporting children in the care of a facility. 

  • Changes to the Children’s Cabinet: One voting member (appointed by the House Majority Leader) was added to the board. Additionally, those appointed by legislative leadership must be legislative members. (Note: The House attempted to add this, but due to timing of writing the amendment, it was acknowledged that this provision will be added in Conference Committee.) 

What did the House's amendment remove?

  • Child-to-Staff Ratios in Law: The child-to-staff ratio was taken out of the bill and will remain within KDHE’s regulatory framework. However, KDHE must adjust ratio changes by July 1, 2024. Keeping this change in regulations allows early childhood experts to use judgment and expertise to address unpredictable needs. 

  • Confusing Commercial Fire Code Language: Acknowledging the need to understand the unique nuances of child care, the House removed language concerning fire codes. The previous language would have had unintended consequences for family child care providers that put them at risk of following commercial fire codes in their homes. 

What makes this a compromise?

The collaboration between early childhood professionals, advocates, and lawmakers on SB 96 provides changes to Kansas’ child care system. Most importantly, though, it ensures that KDHE maintains its power to adjust regulations based on best practices and community needs.  

Throughout the 2023 interim, KDHE worked alongside providers, advocates, and other stakeholders to update and modify regulations. Those updated regulations were recently approved by the Attorney General’s Office, and now have a pathway toward implementation this summer.  

The compromise on SB 96 protects that process and ensures early childhood professionals and advocates’ voices continue to be heard.  

What happens next?

The House’s amendment and passage of House Sub. for House Sub. for SB 96 was a great step forward in passing legislation that meets the needs of several stakeholders. But it’s not a done deal yet; the Senate must still react to the House’s action on this new language.  

From April 1-5, 2024, three senators and three representatives will meet to discuss the bill through a conference committee and agree (or disagree) on a path forward. We hope the Senate will keep up the good work that the House has already completed!  

If the House and Senate are able to come to an agreement (and both chambers vote in favor of the agreement), the bill will then go to the Governor’s desk. 

The Bottom Line

This week, Kansans worked toward policy that reflects the needs of the early childhood system. More than 1,100 people acted to communicate with their lawmakers about why the bill should either be modified or voted down. Although imperfect, this bill shows dedication toward addressing concerns of the child care community and finding a way toward improvement.


On April 3, 2024, the Commerce Conference Committee met to negotiate on House Sub. for House Sub. for SB 96. Five amendments were proposed, with four of those being agreed to by conference committee members:

  • Amendment 1: Added one voting member to the Children's Cabinet, appointed by the Senate Majority Leader. Additionally, the Conference Committee clarified that all legislative appointees would be legislative members. 

  • Amendment 3: The Senate proposed (and was accepted by the House) changing the definition of "day care facility" to not include an individual who provides care for less than 35 hours per week to four or fewer children, not more than two of whom may be infants, who are not related to the individual by blood, marriage, or legal adoption.” (The definition of "infant" in the bill is “a child who is between two weeks and 12 months of age or a child older than 12 months of age who has not learned to walk.”) 

    KDHE's current policy for care exempt from licensure is a sum of 20 total hours providing care for two non-relative children. This amendment would move it to statute and allow a provider exempt from licensure to care for those same four children at a time for up to 35 hours per week. 

  • Amendment 4 and 5: Technical amendments to clean up the bill after last week's quick action and update based on prior agreements. 

The House received the bill for an up or down vote on April 4. No amendments could be made on the floor. The House ended up passing the bill on April 4 at a vote of 110-10. The Senate now must take action to pass it on to the Governor for her signature.

There are some provisions in the bill that are not ideal, and it will take time to understand their impact on child care availability, affordability, and quality. However, much of the bill reflects a true compromise between the wants of the Legislature and the needs of the child care community.

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