The Metropolitan Council on Early Learning (MCEL) supports public policies and investments that will increase access to high quality early learning programs for Kansas’ children and families. MCEL, in collaboration with partners statewide, endorses the following goals and policy recommendations for the 2016 legislative session:
2016 Kansas Public Policy Agenda
Children's Initiatives Fund and the Kansas Endowment for Youth Fund
The Children’s Initiatives Fund (CIF) and the Kansas Endowment for Youth Fund (KEY) were created by the Legislature in 1999. Funding for both comes from payments made to the state from the master tobacco settlement. The CIF dollars are dedicated to quality early childhood programs — programs like Early Head Start, Pre-K and Parents as Teachers and is administered by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund. The KEY also receives funding from the master tobacco settlement and serves as an endowment for the long-term benefit of funding children’s programs. Maintaining the commitment to early education and maintaining the state’s investment in the CIF and KEY funds will ensure that today’s children will be equipped to lead Kansas toward a more prosperous future. MCEL in partnership with Partners in Quality supports fully funding CIF and ensuring additional receipts from the tobacco settlement go to the KEY fund.
Child Care Development Block Grant Compliance
In November 2014, Congress reauthorized the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) with strong bipartisan support. The legislation aims to ensure the health and safety of children in child care settings, improve the quality of care, and make it easier for families to get and keep child care assistance. The state of Kansas receives over $49 million in CCDBG funds each year to provide child care assistance to nearly 13,000 children and their families across the state, so maintaining compliance with the new regulations is critical to Kansas children and families. The new CCDBG includes new regulations which may require the Kanas to adopt policy changes and increase resources to fully implement the law. In particular the law will require states provide more consumer information to families regarding child care licensing compliance and quality. Child care providers receiving state subsidies will have to have their staff complete a comprehensive background check, be subject to unannounced licensing visits, and meet basic staff to child ratios. The new regulations also increased pre service and ongoing professional development training requirements for providers receiving subsidy funds. The CCDBG does increase the amount of funding to states to improve quality and encourages states to develop or expand Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) designed to measure and improve early learning program quality over time. MCEL in partnership with Partners in Quality supports the adoption of legislative and policy changes that will maintain Kansas’s compliance with the new CCDBG regulations and supports efforts to use increased quality funding for comprehensive quality systems for early learning programs such as the establishment of a statewide QRIS.
Full Day Kindergarten and Voluntary Pre-K
During the 2015 legislative session, the Kansas Legislature repealed the State school finance formula and replaced it with a two year block grant program. These changes were made so the legislature could work to devise a new finance formula for public education. The opening up of discussions on the development of a new finance formula also offers the opportunity to include full day Kindergarten and voluntary Pre-K as a portion of the new finance formula. Many school districts across Kansas do not currently offer full day Kindergarten programs. Full day Kindergarten and voluntary Pre-k programs cultivate successful elementary, secondary and postsecondary students. MCEL in partnership with Partners in Quality supports efforts to include full day Kindergarten and voluntary Pre-K funding in the new Kansas public school foundation formula and efforts to phase-in publicly funded full day Kindergarten and voluntary Pre-K to reach more Kansas children.