HIGH-QUALITY EARLY EDUCATION is formal and informal learning delivered by qualified and fairly compensated professionals in home, center, and school settings. Children’s critical early years are not the time to take shortcuts, but such high-quality programs can consume 20 percent or more of a family’s annual income. This isn’t sustainable.
FAMILIES CAN’T DO IT ALONE. Today, most households require two incomes, meaning that someone outside of the nuclear family has to care for the children. For the sake of the family, that care needs to be affordable; for the sake of the child, that care needs to happen in an environment where they are safe, healthy, and learning. Recent research tells us that the first five years of a child’s life are the most critical for brain development. Learning starts at birth, not whenever someone starts school. High-quality child care is essential for setting a child on the path towards success.
- Kansas has an early education crisis. In many parts of the state, families lack access to child care; and where it is available, it is unaffordable to most. Meanwhile, early educators struggle to make ends meet.
- The disparity between opportunities for those with and without access to high-quality child care — and the means to afford it — has lifelong implications for Kansas children and their parents.
- In Kansas, a family of three making more than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or $40,182 a year, would not qualify for child care assistance. However, the average annual cost of child care in the Topeka metro area is $8,442, or roughly 20 percent of the annual income of that family – and that’s assuming a family only has one child in care.
- The child care workforce is aging, and due to low wages it is difficult to recruit new people into the field. Yet, the cost of child care is so high that providers are reluctant to pass along costs to the client families.
STATE OFFICIALS HAVE ABUNDANT OPPORTUNITIES to pursue legislation and regulations for families to find, afford, and benefit from early education. Kansas must increase high-quality, early learning opportunities for children from birth to 5.
ASK THE CANDIDATE:
- Given that child care is unavailable or unaffordable for many Kansas families, how would you ensure that every working parent has access to high-quality child care?
- Only half of all licensed child care facilities in Kansas accept DCF child care assistance, which many low-income families need. How would you incentivize more child care programs to enroll in the DCF program?
- Research shows that high-quality child care is critical for healthy brain development and future opportunities. What would you do to increase the availability of such care for Kansas children?
- Kansas receives money for child care from the federal government through the Child Care Development Block Grant, which is used to fund critical state programs. How would you maximize the impact of these funds?
KANSAS ACTION FOR CHILDREN
VOTER GUIDE 2020