February 2, 2016

TOPEKA – Today, the Partnership for Early Success (PES) hosted its second annual Symposium for Early Success. Established in 2015 to elevate the conversation around issues impacting the state’s youngest children, this year’s symposium focused on the importance of high-quality child care. Over 200 child advocates, child care providers, community and business leaders, and policymakers attended.

The symposium coincides with legislative hearings this week in the Kansas Senate Ways and Means Committee and the House Appropriations Committee regarding Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to eliminate the Children’s Initiatives Fund (CIF). Attendees were encouraged to join the #SaveTheCIF campaign.

“Today’s event was a celebration of our strongest child advocates, but it was also a call to action,” said Shannon Cotsoradis, President and CEO of Kansas Action for Children. “This is a critical juncture for Kansas’ early learning system. If we don’t save the CIF in 2016, we will put an entire generation of Kansas kids at risk and jeopardize our state’s early childhood infrastructure. It’s encouraging to have so many dedicated leaders with us today to amplify this message.”

The event also aligns with an upcoming meeting on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 hosted by the Kansas Department for Children and Families. The agency is seeking public commentary regarding the critical implementation of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).

CCDBG is the major federal funding source for early childhood education programs and a work support for low-income families. In 2014 it was reauthorized for the first time since 1996, which means Kansas must update its child care policies to continue receiving federal dollars. As a result of Lexie’s Law (the landmark legislation that strengthened Kansas child care oversight in 2010), Kansas is positioned well ahead of other states as CCDBG implementation gets underway.

Linda Smith, a nationally recognized expert in the field of early learning, provided the keynote address. Smith is the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Smith was a key national partner in efforts to pass Lexie’s Law.

In addition, four Kansas employers were recognized for either providing innovative child care options to employees or for increasing child care access or affordability within Kansas communities. The award recipients included:

  • The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, for promoting the development and adoption of Spanish-language training modules for child care providers and promoting in-home child care providers as small businesses in their communities.
  • Topeka Housing Authority, for including on-site child care services for working parents or parents looking for jobs.
  • Salina Regional Health Center, for conducting a community-wide, $6 million capital campaign called Every Child Matters to build, furnish, and equip the Donna L. Vanier’s Children’s Center.
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition, for implementing a series of family-friendly policies, making it much easier for working parents to care for their children.

PES evolved in 2014 as an extension of the Kansas Coalition for School Readiness. The group aims to provide a grassroots voice for young children in Kansas. Learn more here.

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