A publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Fall 2018 Volume 17, Issue 4
KANSAS HEALTH FOUNDATION
4 DEMOGRAPHIC REPORT
IS MEET YOUR THE COMMUNITY NEEDS OF FAMILIES
SEEKING CHILD CARE?
is a publication of
Child Care Aware ®
Angie Saenger, Deputy Director
Julie Hess Design
On the Cover
Hayes Sanders, age 2, son
of Ben and Sarah Sanders,
Berryton, KS, imitates his
older brothers who love
to play football.
Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,
1508 East Iron, Salina, KS 67401,
publishes Kansas Child quarterly,
which is made possible through the
financial support of the members
of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas and
sponsorships from our corporate,
private, and foundation partners.
Kansas Child is intended to provide
a forum for the discussion of child
care and early education issues and
ideas. We hope to provoke thoughtful
discussions within the field and to
help those outside the field gain a
better understanding of priorities
and concerns. The views expressed
by the authors are not necessarily
those of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
or its sponsors.
Copyright © 2018 by Child Care Aware ®
of Kansas, unless otherwise noted. No
permission is required to excerpt or
make copies of articles provided that
they are distributed at no cost. For
other uses, send written permission
Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,
1508 East Iron, Salina, KS 67401
Child Care Aware ®
I grew up in the small town of Hillsboro, a true farming community in the middle of the state,
surrounded by wheat fields. In the ’50s and ’60s it had a modest population of slightly less than
3,000. It had two grocery stores, a drugstore complete with a soda fountain and also sold women’s
costume jewelry. On Main Street there was a clothing store, a “5 and dime store,” a bowling alley,
and one bar that sold beer but no hard liquor. There were two family restaurants with no drivethrough
windows and one ice cream shop with a walkup window.
Hillsboro was fortunate back then to have three family physicians, a small hospital, one dentist
and one optometrist. A cornerstone of this small town were the seven churches that served the
Mennonites, Methodists and Baptists.
My family lived in Hillsboro from the time I was 18 months old until I was 18 years old and
graduated from high school. My childhood home was a little unusual for the times, because both
my parents worked outside the home. They owned and operated one of the two restaurants in
town, the Wheel Inn Cafe. It was open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Friday. My dad
was the “chef,” having learned those skills in the Army. My mom did much of the baking and
made sure customers were well taken care of so they would come back for their next meal.
Our place was strategically located on the highway so it was easy for truckers to stop in for a
big piece of homemade pie. I grew up in the restaurant. I was either in the kitchen helping to peel
potatoes or delivering water to the tables before a waitress could stop to take an order.
As I got a little older, I had lots of free time to spend outside, at the swimming pool or the park
with friends. Life was simple then. I never felt unsafe in Hillsboro.
When I was in high school (and a little ornery) I always knew that if I did something
downtown that didn’t meet the approval of anyone who was watching, my mother would know
about it before I got home that night! I lived the old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Hillsboro collectively watched out for me and all of the kids growing up there.
Looking back, my childhood in Hillsboro directly influenced my choice of professions and is
reflected in the small-town values by which I have chosen to live my life.
I talk today about how the collective vision of early childhood professionals is that all children
have safe, loving, healthy, nurturing environments in which to grow, play, develop necessary skills,
and build relationships; and that all children deserve access to health and dental care. I recognize
that I was provided that environment, even though both my parents had jobs.
Today, I still go back to Hillsboro fairly frequently to visit my mother-in-law, and because
my parents are buried in one of the three cemeteries there. Hillsboro has changed, but the
values I learned there have stood the test of time. All Kansas children, whether their homes are
surrounded by wheat fields or skyscrapers, deserve the opportunity to have that same sense of
security and opportunity.
Kansas Child is distributed at no
cost to Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
donors. Single copies are available
to anyone at $5 each, prepaid.
IN THIS ISSUE
Change: Kansas Health Foundation
Releases State Demographic Report.......4
Adolescent Health Literacy:
An Essential Life Skill for
Transitioning into Adulthood................... 8
Developing Early Regulation.................... 8
Kansans of Tomorrow............................. 10
Socio-Ecological Model of Health
Promotion and Childhood Obesity
in Kansas City......................................... 10
Exciting Opportunity for Wyandotte
County Children and Families.................12
On the Road in Northwest Kansas:
Community Strategic Doing....................13
Thrive Allen County:
The Best Days are Ahead!....................... 14
Allen County, Kansas: 2017 Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation Culture
of Health Prize Winner............................15
Is Your Community Able to Meet the
Needs of Families Seeking Child Care?. 16
New Child Care Workforce Report..........17
Our Tomorrows: Using Kansans’ Voices
to Inform Services...................................18
Investing in Kids: How ending
extreme tax policy freed Kansas
lawmakers to lift the next generation....20
Child Care as Utility.................................21
Book Nook: The Magical Richness
of Books.................................................. 22
Kansas Health Foundation
Kansas Health Foundation,
President and CEO
Steve Coen has worked to improve the health of all
Kansans in his 30-plus years at the Kansas Health
Foundation. He has held his current position as president
and CEO since August 2008. Steve is a native of St. John,
KS, and graduated from Emporia State University and
Washburn University School of Law.
Imagine a small, rural Kansas town in the
1960s — children playing, families spending time together
and streets lined with storefronts. Neighbors are helping
each other in moments of need and everyone is working to
create a community that feels more like a family.
In all, it was just an easier, slower-paced life when things
didn’t seem as complicated. Parents had more time to
be intimately involved in their kids’ lives and children
could walk or ride their bikes almost anywhere without
It was a time when almost every town had a drug store,
grocery store and movie theater, and the community was
vibrant with activity on any given night.
In the past 60 years, times seem to have changed.
Smaller towns are closing local storefronts and shuttering
windows as residents take their business elsewhere,
oftentimes driving to nearby larger towns or shopping
As we think about this phenomenon, what do we really
know about how the state has changed? What will the next
20 to 50 years look like in Kansas? And, how will these
changes affect the health of our residents?
This is something we kept asking at the Kansas Health
Foundation, because we know that without a roadmap we’ll
never be able to reach our desired destination: a culture in
which every Kansan can make healthy choices where they
live, work and play.
We believe for our statewide organization, and many
others, the ability to make sound decisions is dependent
on having data detailing where we’ve been and where we’re
going. And only from there can we perform effective,
purposeful grantmaking and communication work.
With this in mind, we partnered with the Kansas
Health Institute — a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational
organization that delivers objective information, conducts
credible research, and supports civic dialogue enabling
policymakers to make informed health policy decisions
— to author and produce a report showing population
patterns in both Kansas and the United States.
The report also features population projections by
race and ethnicity from recent research conducted
by the Wichita State University Center for Economic
Development and Business Research. “A Changing Kansas:
Implications for Health and Communities” highlights the
reality that the Kansas population is changing, and these
changes have important implications for the health of our
state and communities – no matter their size. Shifting
demographics also impact how communities will function
in the future and provide essential services for residents.
Continued on page 6
4 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
The Kansas Hispanic population is
expected to quadruple by 2066,
increasing nearly 287 percent.
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 5
Continued from page 4
Throughout the report, pertinent facts become clear, and many
important conclusions can be drawn. At the highest level, one key
takeaway is that the Kansas population is growing slower than the
United States as a whole. In order to ensure a prosperous future,
a state must continue to grow its population and advance its
In the absence of massive overall population growth, it
becomes even more vital that we as Kansans focus on key
demographic shifts, especially those highlighted in this report.
By analyzing the numbers presented regarding population
and demographics in the coming decades, we are able to draw
three over-arching conclusions: Kansas is becoming increasingly
diverse, concentrating in urban areas, and is aging.
For years, Kansas communities of all sizes were predominately
non-Hispanic White. That reality is quickly changing.
Non-Hispanic Whites made up more than 84 percent of the
Kansas population in 2000, but 16 years later, represented only
Between 1960 and 2016, Kansas grew at a lower rate than the
national average. It is revealing that even this small growth was
completely due to minority populations. For the purposes of the
report, minority populations were defined as “any racial or ethnic
group other than non-Hispanic White.”
All 105 Kansas counties saw an increase in minority populations
during this time period. Projections indicate this trend will
continue, with the Kansas Hispanic population expected to
quadruple, increasing nearly 287 percent by the year 2066.
In contrast, the non-Hispanic White population is projected to
decrease by approximately 21 percent by 2066. This population
group already declined by 0.3 percent from 2000 to 2016. Current
growth patterns indicate this population will continue to decline
while minority populations substantially increase.
In addition to the anticipated growth of the Hispanic
population in the coming decades, other minorities are also
expected to see large increases:
Black population by more than 41%
Other/Multiple Races by 138%.
These population increases among minorities are predicted to
lead to a major “event” within the next 50 years: Between 2061
and 2066, researchers foretell Kansas will become a majority
people of color state.
Any time a shift this dramatic is predicted, the obvious
question becomes, “Is this good or bad for our state?” At the
Kansas Health Foundation, we believe that “change,” in and
of itself, is neither good or bad. Change is simply change, and
with changes, it’s important to look at the opportunities and the
These changes bring great advantages, like a stable, growing
population base; a steady workforce needed for jobs; an
opportunity to keep unemployment levels from going lower,
which helps recruit new industries; and more vibrancy to cultural
life in Kansas.
But, challenges also come with growing diversity. When
looking at state health data based on race, income and education,
we see that minority populations tend to experience higher rates
of tobacco use, obesity and diabetes. They are also more likely
to have lower incomes, be uninsured and have lower levels of
It will be important for community and state policymakers to
plan for and carefully consider how to mitigate these challenges
and especially to ensure educational systems remain strong.
Education will become even more important for the future of
By 2066 the non-Hispanic White population is projected
to decrease by 21 percent. Minorities are expected
to see large increases: Black population by more than
41%, Other/Multiple Races by 138%.
our state due to the connection between education, better jobs,
higher income, greater access to care, healthier behaviors and
ultimately better health outcomes for all Kansans.
With this knowledge of a shifting demographic landscape,
Kansas will have the opportunity during the next 50 years to
build on its pioneering past and solidify itself as a diverse and
Another aspect the report touches on is a population shift away
from rural areas to more urban parts of the state.
Taking another step back in time, the Kansas population
between 1960 and 2016 increased by 33.4 percent, but the U.S.
population increased by more than 80 percent.
During these years, population growth has not occurred
uniformly in all geographic regions of the state. Most growth
occurred in highly populated areas or around livestock centers in
While urban counties increased in population during these 56
years (nearly 81 percent in urban and more than 24 percent in
semi-urban), rural and frontier counties saw significant decreases
in population (more than 22 percent and approximately 41
From 2000 to 2016, 82 of the 105 Kansas counties experienced
population loss, but the state as a whole saw a growth of more
than 8 percent.
Between now and 2066, rural counties are projected to see
6 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
a continual decrease in population of nearly 20 percent in the
western areas of the state, and approximately 32 percent in the east.
The report suggests more people will continue to make
metropolitan areas their home by 2066. The overall state
population is predicted to increase by 25 percent during this time
period, and growth will concentrate in urban areas of the state.
For instance, Topeka is projected to grow by more than 7 percent,
Lawrence by nearly 126 percent, the Kansas City area by 44.5
With this trend continuing, an interesting milestone will
be reached in the coming years: By 2034, the number of older
residents will exceed those under age 18 for the first time in our
state’s history. While the overall state population is expected to
grow by 25 percent between now and 2066, the projected growth
rate among people 65 and older will be nearly 70 percent.
When thinking about this imbalance between the older and
younger populations, we have to think about how this shift will
Topeka is projected to grow by more than 7 percent,
Lawrence by nearly 126 percent,
the Kansas City area by 44.5 percent
and Wichita by more than 28 percent
By 2034, the number of older residents will exceed
those under age 18 for the first time in our state’s
history. The projected growth rate among people 65 and
older will be nearly 70 percent.
percent and Wichita by more than 28 percent.
These trends and projections could greatly impact public
health, and pose problems for governments, education systems
and human service organizations. Urban areas will need to make
difficult decisions and important investments to ensure their
communities are capable of adding large increases in population
while maintaining critical aspects of quality of life.
Governments in rural areas will likely face mounting pressure
on local budgets to fund infrastructure and essential programs
with fewer residents to foot the bill. Rural areas will also have
to make difficult decisions. Instead of large investments like the
urban areas, rural decisions may focus instead on finding ways
simply to provide essential services.
It’s safe to say both urban and rural areas of the state must be
prepared for changes in the coming decades.
An Aging Population
It’s probably not surprising that while rising diversity and
urbanization are occurring, our population is also getting older.
What might not be as well known is that it’s happening at a much
faster rate than the rest of the nation. This trend is expected to
increase each year as Baby Boomers reach retirement age.
In 2000, Kansans were a median age of 35.2, but in 16 years this
number has increased to 36.5.
The number of Kansans age 65 and older is also increasing. In
2016, 15 percent of the population fell in this age bracket, which
was up from 13.3 percent just 16 years earlier.
affect our state’s economy — if we’ll have enough workers to
support our growing elderly population and how to best prepare
our health care systems, which will likely become more stressed
with additional chronic illness.
Generations of Kansans have used their ingenuity and wisdom
to set our state on the course to prosperity. As these generations
age, we must make sure we return the favor by providing them
with the necessary services in their golden years.
We know change will occur no matter what. We can look at
the opportunities to plan for the best health of our residents
and for the betterment of our communities. With this report,
we now have hard numbers and solid facts rather than merely
conjecture and hypotheses.
We have the privilege to create a better path for the health of
our people, and for stronger, more vibrant, communities.
But we can’t do it alone. It’s going to take all of us – with
different ideas, talents and working in ways that are much
different than we have before. State and local leaders must
engage with communities to learn how to address these trends,
and what it’ll mean for their unique makeup.
Can you, and your organization, commit to a future that is
inclusive and builds on the strengths of our people?
We hope you can, and that you’ll join us in doing so.
Visit kansashealth.org to learn more about the Kansas Health
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 7
Adolescent Health Literacy
Imagine this scenario…
Teen, to his parent: Soccer tryouts are
coming up. I’ll need to turn in the sports
physical form on the first day of tryouts.
Parent: I can take you. Just call the office
and schedule an appointment.
Teen: Ok- I’ll do it later today.
Realistic? Probably not.
Would most teens know
what type of medical
practice to call for
a sports physical?
Would they have
the phone number
saved or know
the name of the
practice so they
could look up
only 12% of
adolescent health literacy rates are difficult to
estimate, it is unlikely that most teens would
have the knowledge to complete a basic health
care task, such as scheduling their own sports
physical, without guidance from a parent or
guardian. Why does this matter?
Becoming self-sufficient is a key
developmental task of adolescence. To survive
and thrive as adults, teens must learn skills
such as managing money, cooking, doing
laundry, and working. Managing one’s own
health care is among these essential life skills.
In fact, health literacy is a stronger predictor of
health than age, income, employment status,
educational level, or race. 2 As health literacy
increases, people are more likely to seek
preventive services and enter the health system
healthier, have lower rates of preventable
hospital and emergency department visits and
are less likely to report their health as poor. 3
Increasingly, the medical community is
recognizing the importance of health literacy
among young adults. The American Academy
of Pediatrics, American College of Physicians,
and American Academy of Family Physicians
recognize that all adolescents require guidance,
education and planning to manage their
own health care as they become adults. 4 The
National Academy of Medicine suggests that
initiatives to improve health literacy through
primary and secondary education could lead
Licensed Masters Social
Bobbie Cooprider is a certified Attachment and Bio-
Behavioral Catch-Up (ABC) Coordinator/Parent Coach.
She is currently a trained forensic interviewer and is
pursuing Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Certification. Bobbie is a Licensed Masters Social Worker.
She has 16 years of experience working with children,
conducting quality improvement in child care centers and
homes, and advocating for children and families.
Developing Early Regulation
Building strong relationships with children
can actually help to protect them from stress.
Parents strive to be highly committed to their
children, but the emotional challenge of caring
for a challenging child might cause parents to
hold back. No matter what situation parents
come up against, a high level of commitment
and responsiveness is recommended.
Infants depend on their caregivers to regulate
their body. The showing of outstretched arms
and crying are a way of maintaining proximity
to their caregiver. When parents show
sensitivity to a baby’s cues and bidding, the
infant feels secure. When a caregiver shows
a lack of commitment or response, the child
might be at risk of not being able to develop
How commitment is communicated to
children is important. Most early education
professionals would say that commitment is
observable. It can be seen in the intensity of
a parent’s look and in expressions, such as
delight. This type of communication is the
same no matter what culture.
Although delight might not be a predictor
of relationship quality, it is a fundamental
element of attachment when reviewing
sensitivity, rejection, and support of a child’s
exploration. When children receive these
messages, they understand that they have
worth and importance in the world.
Caring actions such as being warm,
responsive, and affectionate, help children to
8 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
An Essential Life Skill for Transitioning into Adulthood
to better health and decrease the cost of
health care in the United States. 5
Filling a Gap in Adolescent Health
Literacy Education: Navigating the
Health Care System
Recognizing the importance of
increasing health literacy among
adolescents and the scarcity of health
literacy interventions designed for
adolescents in the general population 6 ,
Nemours Children’s Health System created
Navigating the Health Care System, a fourunit
health literacy curriculum designed
for use with high-school-aged adolescents
in classroom and community settings.
Nemours is an internationally recognized
children’s health system that owns and
operates two, free-standing children’s
hospitals along with outpatient facilities
in five states to deliver pediatric primary,
specialty and urgent care.
Navigating the Health Care System
(NTHCS), which incorporates national
education standards, was piloted and
refined in collaboration with schools and
other community sites in Delaware. Topics
covered include primary and specialty
care, insurance, family history, logistics
of medical visits, and more. Information
is shared via four, 45-minute modules.
The content, which can be presented
by trained adults or peer educators,
includes presentation slides, student
workbooks, video clips and interactive
In three academic years of testing
involving nearly 2,900 students,
teenagers showed significant knowledge
gains—an average of almost 20
percentage points. In addition, adolescents
taking part in the sessions and adults
presenting the content reported high levels
of satisfaction with the curriculum.
Bringing Health Literacy
Education to All Youth: National
Expansion of NTHCS
Given these results, Nemours launched
a national expansion of the curriculum
in 2018. Recognizing that many of the
adolescents who are taught the NTHCS
curriculum will never receive clinical care
from Nemours, it remains committed to
creating a new generation of educated
health consumers. Therefore, Nemours
is providing free materials, training, and
assistance to partners that are interested in
implementing the curriculum anywhere in
the country. School districts, communities,
Nemours Children’s Health
Kate Burke Blackburn, MSW, has worked in the
health care sector for more than 20 years with a
focus on adolescent, community and population
health. Ms. Blackburn works for Nemours Children’s
Health System, where she is Manager of Practice
and Prevention within Nemours’ National Office of
Policy & Prevention.
health systems, health plans, and others
that are interested in implementing the
no-cost curriculum can contact NTHCS@
nemours.org or visit the program
website to learn more. n
1 Berkman ND, Sheridan SL, Donahue KE, Halpern DJ, Crotty K. Low
health literacy and health outcomes: an updated systematic review.
Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(2):97–107.
2 American Medical Association Ad Hoc Committee on Health
Literacy for the Council on Scientific Affairs. Health Literacy: Report
of the Council on Scientific affairs. JAMA. 1999;281(6):552–557
4 American Academy of Pediatrics; American Academy of Family
Physicians; American College of Physicians; Transitions Clinical
Report Authoring Group, Cooley WC, Sagerman PJ. Supporting the
health care transition from adolescence to adulthood in the medical
home. Pediatrics. 2011;128(1):182-200.
5 Winkelman TNA, Caldwell MT, Bertram B, Davis MM. (2016)
Promoting Health Literacy for Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics.
Accessed at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/
6 Hughes D, Maiden K. Navigating the health care system: an
adolescent health literacy unit for high schools. J Sch Health. 2018;
feel worthwhile and teach them how to show
affection. Reading and responding to cues
given by children is critical to their social and
emotional development. Look for indications
of children wanting to interact with signs of
smiles, reaching out or pulling away. Children
arching their back might mean they are
distressed, need a break or they are sad.
Participate in meaningful interactions with
children. Taking turns in interactions helps
young children feel competent. This is called a
serve-and-return interaction. When you mirror
what a child does, they recognize they have an
effect on their world.
Be physically and emotionally available when
young children explore their environment.
Mobile infants and toddlers will venture out and
return to their caregivers when they need security.
They find balance in being close to caregivers
along with accomplishing tasks on their own.
Success builds their confidence in the world.
Children need comfort when they become
distressed. Infants and toddlers learn to
manage their emotions when they have
consistent adult response to their
communication cues and comfort
from their distress. Their heart rate
comes down and they learn to
regulate their bodies more. This
will help them self-regulate as they
become closer to school age.
During play, adults should not
be intrusive, but should provide
problem-solving support so that a
child’s confidence and motivation to
learn grows. Caregivers can do this
by asking open-ended questions as
a child plays, comfort them when they
are frustrated, and respond to the child’s
signals. Being responsive, nurturing, and
showing delight will strengthen your positive
relationship with your child, while helping your
child to develop in a healthy way. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 9
Kansans of Tomorrow
We know how to create quality early learning experiences for children. We know
how to create nurturing spaces that allow for brain development and creative play.
Educators and researchers have cleared the way for all of us who work in this space.
Why then isn’t it quite working, at least not yet?
It takes adequate funding and political support to make these critical
experiences available for all children — especially children from communities of
color who face the highest barriers. Our knowledge can only go so far without
public will and commitment.
That’s why Kansas children need you — you reading this very article right now
— to help us change the political landscape. To find out who represents you in
Topeka, go to https://openstates.org/ and type in your address, then contact them.
Lawmakers and public officials across the spectrum need to understand that
early education and childhood brain development are:
1.) Relatively easy to understand.
2.) Crucially important for our state’s future.
You can make the first point by talking about the extraordinary journey that
children take from birth to age 5. Compare a tiny, crying infant to a confident,
talkative kindergartner. Imagine the enormous development in body and mind
that takes place over those years. Nearly everyone, and most certainly parents, have
seen those changes. Even politicians who might disagree with you ideologically
can understand the miracle of this growth.
Then note that anything that halts or reverses that development — adverse
childhood experiences, lack of nurturing environments, health or financial
challenges — can put that development at risk.
The second point should follow logically. These children are not only Kansans
today, they are the Kansans of tomorrow. Their success in growing and learning
now means they are on a path for health and success throughout their lives. And
that success has profound implications for our state’s communities and economy.
Kansans have made difficult decisions and choices before. It’s in the state motto:
Ad astra per aspera; “To the stars through difficulty.” Supporting early education
and investments in childhood brain development shouldn’t be difficult, though.
It’s just common sense. n
Vice President of Advocacy,
Kansas Action for Children
John has spent his career working at the intersection
of design, public health, and policymaking. He spent
a decade working to improve the health of America’s
children at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. As
a Kansas State Representative, John worked to redefine
the culture of the Legislature to be more open and
collaborative. He is a 2006 graduate of the University
of Kansas where he studied visual communication. The
best parts of his day are when he’s spending time with
his wife, Jami, and their two sons, Parker and Henry.
Model of Health
ROBIN SHOOK PhD
Children’s Mercy Hospitals
Robin Shook is a Research Assistant Professor in the
Department of Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy and
the Director of Weighing In. His research interests
include both public health and clinical approaches to
Public health officials are challenged
on a daily basis to promote healthy
behaviors among whatever population
they serve, from increasing seat belt use to
smoking cessation to violence prevention.
Unfortunately, a daily read of newspaper
headlines will reinforce what most of
us know from firsthand experience —
changing someone’s behavior is hard.
In an effort to better understand the
various factors that determine someone’s
behavior, public health officials and
academic researchers often turn to
the socio-ecological model of health
promotion. Socio-ecological models have
been developed over the past several
decades to facilitate an understanding of
multiple levels of influence on any number
of health behaviors, including nutrition
10 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Home PA equipment
Parks, trails programs
Private rec. facilities
Sports: amateur, pro
Health care policies
Healthcare: counseling, info
Mass media: news/ads
Access & Characteristics
Active Living Domains
social support, partners
for social activities
Social climate, safety,
crime, clubs, teams,
programs, norms, culture,
Info during transport
Activities School Environment
School sitting policies
Facility access policies
Safe Routes to
Health care policies
Health sector policies
Advocacy by individuals
Land use policies
Figure 1. Ecological Model of Four Dimensions of Active Living
and physical activity (James F Sallis, Owen,
& Fisher, 2015). The primary utility of
these models is that they can be used to
inform comprehensive health behavior
change interventions. One of the key
aspects of socio-ecological models is that
they highlight the need for multiple levels
of interaction to create lasting populationbased
change (Huang, Brownson, Esposito,
Green, & Homer, 2013).
Weighing In, a coalition of community
organizations in Kansas City working
to address childhood obesity, recently
hosted a summit titled, Factors of Health:
Addressing the Systems Influencing
Childhood Obesity. One of the keynote
speakers was Dr. Jim Sallis, professor
emeritus at the University of California-
San Diego. Dr. Sallis has been a leader
in the field of obesity prevention and
behavior change for more than three
decades, and has developed the most
widely used socio-ecological model of
health promotion as it relates to physical
activity behaviors; see Figure 1 (J. F. Sallis
et al., 2006).
As you can see, the socio-ecological
model is a useful tool to describe how a
behavior — let’s use walking as an example
— is not determined by one, two, or even
three factors. Instead, there are a multitude
of factors across multiple different levels
that ultimately influence how many steps
a person achieves during the day. The
intrapersonal level, located in the center
of the figure, considers individual-level
factors. Is the person old or young?
Do they have any physical disabilities?
Are they a single mother of three, or a
The next level describes the perception
of their environment. Is it safe to walk
down their street? Are there streetlights,
and do they work? Do they live on a busy
road or a quiet suburban cul-de-sac?
As we move outward in the model we
begin to consider other aspects of their
home, work, and play environments.
Do they have an office job that requires
sitting at a desk all day? Or, does their job
involve lots of moving, such as a postal
carrier or waitress? Lastly, and perhaps
most importantly, are there policies in
place where they live, work, and play
that promote being active? Does their
community have a Complete Streets policy
Continued on page 19
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 11
Exciting Opportunity for
Wyandotte County Children and Families
The Family Conservancy | www.thefamilyconservancy.org
When high-quality child care is accessible, parents can go to work with peace of mind — knowing their child is
safe, happy and receiving support that will prepare them for success in school and beyond. In Wyandotte County an
exciting, new project could provide that peace of mind for more than 1,200 families.
The Family Conservancy, a nonprofit serving at-risk children and families throughout the Kansas City metro area,
is launching a three-year pilot project called Start Young. Start Young will improve the child care landscape in
Wyandotte County by increasing quality, access and sustainability. Over the course of the pilot project, Start Young
will create new child care spaces and provide teachers and administrators with training and coaching.
A Collaborative Approach
The Family Conservancy will lead the project that will include 16 community child care
providers and four direct-service partners that have committed to the project: Mid-America
Regional Council, United Way of Wyandotte County, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project and
Child Care Aware of Kansas.
Funding for Start Young is provided by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund through
Communities Aligned in Early Development and Education (CAEDE), and matched with
funds from the private sector.
Years in the Making: High-Quality Care is the Key to a Bright Future
Start Young reflects years of planning by several community stakeholders. Driven by
Wyandotte County’s poor health ranking (102 out of 105 Kansas counties), the Wyandotte
County Health Assessment was launched in 2016. The results, around per capita income
growth and improved wellbeing, pointed stakeholders to early education as a solution to
achieving the goals.
Currently, Wyandotte County has capacity to provide child care for only approximately 40
percent of working families with young children. Many of the programs that are available
are not full-day, full-year programs. Further complicating the issue, the average income in
Wyandotte County is roughly 60 percent of the state average. Even when parents can find
high-quality care that meets their needs, many have difficulty paying for it.
The Big Picture: Happy, Healthy Educated Children
While Start Young can drive short-term economic growth and improve health and happiness
for families in Wyandotte County, the most significant return on investment might materialize
as the next generation comes of age.
The first years of life are a crucial child development period, when 90 percent of brain growth
occurs. For children to reach their full potential, it’s important that the individuals caring for
them — whether parents, relatives or child care providers — know how to support healthy
physical and brain development.
Because a significant number of young children spend the majority of the week in child care,
we can’t overlook the role providers play in preparing children for success in school and
life. Research is clear — children who have access to high-quality early care and education
programs are more likely to enter kindergarten with the social, emotional, physical and
cognitive skills they need to be successful.
The Start Young project’s ability to address the immediate need for child care while focusing on improving quality
makes it truly a present and future solution to many of Wyandotte County’s most dire needs. n
12 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Betty Johnson & Associates
Betty is president of Betty Johnson & Associates, a
nonprofit consulting firm. Betty was raised in Smith
Center. She is an alum of Fort Hays State University,
is a member of KARL, Class V. She is a Certified
Fund-Raising Executive, a trained TOPS facilitator, and
certified in Strategic Doing. She lives in Lawrence and
is the mother of 3 sons.
On the Road in Northwest Kansas
The Dane G. Hansen Foundation has been
very active in northwest Kansas — providing
opportunities and initiatives to the 26 northwest
Kansas counties in its service area. One initiative,
Strategic Doing, has provided a process that
allows residents in the counties and communities
to move local ideas and projects forward.
Strategic Doing is about thinking, behaving, and
doing differently. It’s about bringing our collective
networks, assets, skills, and passions to create
opportunities that will create change and bring
ideas to realities. It is about creating an environment
that is civil and inclusive as we determine where
we’re going and how we will get there. Four simple
questions are asked: what can we do together, what
should we do together, what will we do together,
and what’s our 30/30? Although simple
in form, it is not easy. But the process has
proven very successful around the world and
also in northwest Kansas.
Through a series of meetings, northwest
Kansas communities have been introduced
to and are implementing projects using the
Strategic Doing process. Common themes
have emerged across the region, including
economic development, jobs, health care, child
care, healthy living, arts and entertainment,
and housing. The Hansen Foundation is
addressing some of these common topics
on a regional level, while the counties and
communities are working through them locally.
The projects are varied, addressing the
specific needs and goals of each county. The process allows
for the projects to move forward when individuals want
to make them happen. Communities are building walking
trails and tracks, and creating countywide calendars
and marketing plans. They are enhancing child care and
healthcare options, revitalizing and beautifying downtowns,
cleaning up their communities, working on tourism,
designing festivals, bringing in entertainment and adding
leadership programs for youth and adults. They are working
on sports facilities, social services, transportation, schools
and education, and senior centers. They are creating
programs to encourage diversity and be more welcoming,
looking at ways to help their local businesses and encourage
entrepreneurs to locate in their area. Groups are working
on environmental issues, spiritual training, value-added,
community facilities, and enhancing technology in our
Many benefits are emerging through the Strategic
Doing process in northwest Kansas. Because the process
is presented to counties, not individual communities,
communities that have previously not worked together
are coming together and making projects a reality. New
leaders and community volunteers are stepping up to lead
and participate in projects to make change. Residents are
recognizing their role in changing their communities,
taking ownership and giving their time and energy to make
Strategic Doing is a process that is helping to build a
future for northwest Kansas and encouraging collaboration
among all residents to accomplish clear, valuable and shared
outcomes. It is making northwest Kansas a welcoming,
vibrant area for its residents, visitors, and businesses. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 13
Thrive Allen County The Best Days are Ahead!
Allen County is a community of 13,000
people spread over 505 square miles. Like
most rural communities it has experienced
nearly uninterrupted population loss for a
century. This loss brought about a decline
in the overall mood and well-being of the
population. The pervasive thought was
that tomorrow will be worse than today.
But a small group of community members
were not ready to throw in the towel.
In 2007 they formed a coalition to work
on the vision that Allen County would
be the healthiest rural county in Kansas,
with a belief that our county’s best days
were ahead of us. This coalition became
formalized as Thrive Allen County and in
2008 it recruited David Toland, a seventhgeneration
Allen countian who was
working and living in Washington, D.C., to
move back to his hometown and become
the first CEO of Thrive.
Thrive works to improve the quality
of life in Allen County by focusing on
health, wellness, economic development,
recreation and education conditions,
and by engaging people and institutions
around a common vision for the future.
This means working to increase access to
healthcare, connecting people to programs
and services, encouraging residents to live
healthier, more active lives, and providing
leadership on important public issues.
Thrive Allen County has worked as a
convener, local public policy leader, goalsetter,
prodder, cheerleader or critic—all
depending on the current need in the
Improving quality of life is essential to
the survival of small towns.
People want to live in communities
with healthy, well-educated residents.
Businesses want to locate in communities
with a robust, adaptable workforce.
And young people are more receptive to
moving to communities with great schools,
parks and trails, and the feeling that the
community has a bright future.
Over the past 10 years, Thrive has
developed from a fledgling, all-volunteer
coalition to the largest quality-oflife
coalition in Kansas. The work
accomplished by Thrive has included
obtaining voter approval for a new critical
access hospital; passage of the third
Tobacco 21 ordinance in Kansas and the
9th Complete Streets ordinance in the
state; lowering the uninsured rate in the
county from 21% in 2013 to 9% in 2017;
the development of 27 miles of new trails
including the Southwind Rail Trail and
the Lehigh Portland Trails; the opening
of a new, federally qualified health center
(FQHC); and the redevelopment of the
former Allen County Hospital site into a
new retail and apartment neighborhood,
including the first stand-alone grocery
store to open in Iola in 10 years. Most
prominently, in 2017, Thrive was the
driver of Allen County’s successful
application for the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation Culture of Health prize.
Allen County became the first Kansas
community to win the prize, a point of
immense pride for the community and
recognition of the dedication and vision
Thrive has of Allen County becoming the
healthiest rural county in the state. “This
isn’t a rich place,” says Toland. “We don’t
14 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Allen County, Kansas: 2017 Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation Culture of Health Prize Winner
CEO, Thrive Allen County
David Toland is the first CEO of Thrive Allen County, a
nonprofit working to improve quality of life and economic
conditions in Allen County, Kansas. A seventh-generation
Allen Countian, Toland oversees a coalition known
nationally for innovative approaches to improving rural
healthcare access, healthy lifestyles and economic
have natural advantages, but we’re scrappy,
we’re resourceful, and our best asset is our
Allen County is a place with profound
challenges, as well as amazing opportunities.
Those two things—challenges and
opportunities—go hand in hand. Thrive
Allen County works to find and create
opportunities to overcome barriers and
challenges. Thrive reflects the best of their
community. They’re not afraid to take on the
hard issues. They love to innovate. They get
results. And above all, they believe that Allen
County’s best days are ahead of us. n
Allen County, Kansas, was named one of eight winners of the 2017 Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation, and has the distinguished honor of being the first and only Kansas
community to be selected. The prize honors communities for their unwavering
efforts to ensure all residents have the opportunity to live healthier lives.
Allen County is being nationally recognized for pursuing innovative ideas and
bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health. Chosen
from more than 200 applicant communities across the country, Allen County’s
award-winning efforts include building and sustaining a robust healthcare safety
net, including constructing a new critical access hospital; establishing a local,
federally qualified health center; dramatically reducing the county’s uninsured
rate; recruiting new healthcare providers to the community; creating a built
environment that supports healthy physical activity, including developing 27
miles of trails; encouraging new development in walkable locations; constructing
a new supermarket in a USDA-designated “food desert”; making major policy
changes, including establishing a drug court and food policy council; restricting
youth access to tobacco through a “Tobacco 21” ordinance; supporting workplace
wellness policies at large and small employers; and encouraging consideration of all
modes of transportation through Complete Streets policies.
“Allen countians have been working for a decade toward becoming the healthiest
rural county in Kansas,” said David Toland, CEO of Thrive Allen County. “We’re not
there yet, and there’s a long way to go. But the progress our community has made
is nothing short of incredible, and we thank the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
for recognizing the creativity, dedication and resourcefulness of Allen Countians in
creating and fostering a culture of health.”
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 15
Able to Meet
By Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
In many Kansas communities, families
searching for child care find that the
number of openings for their children
can be few and far between. The lack of
available child care impacts more than
just families, it also creates challenges
for employers to attract and retain a
If child care is clearly an important and
necessary part of a community’s economic
infrastructure, then why is there a lack of
child care in some Kansas communities?
There are a number of factors that
influence both the supply and the demand
of child care. Some of the factors include
the geographic landscape of Kansas,
industry and employment opportunities,
and the current capacity of child care
providers and early education facilities.
Kansas is a vast state, covering 105
counties and 82,277 square miles. It is
home to more than 332,000 families with
young children. The population density
within the counties can vary greatly. Urban
county settlements have greater than 150
residents per square mile, while frontier
county settlements have 6 or fewer people
per square mile. As you might imagine, the
industry and employment opportunities
within counties also differ and further
stress the demand for child care.
A deeper analysis shows that urban
county settlements, such as Wyandotte
County, claim manufacturing and retail
trade among the top employers. In
frontier county settlements, such as Jewell
County, agriculture employs a large
portion of the population. However, they
share a similar industry — healthcare.
When investigating the need for child
care, healthcare is a vitally important
industry to consider. Hospitals, health
departments and clinics often have several
shifts, creating a need for care during
nontraditional hours (evenings, weekends,
The 2018 Child Care Supply Demand
Report: The Landscape of Child Care in
Kansas, tells us that of the 105 Kansas
counties, licensed family and group day
care homes in just 57 counties and child
care centers in only 6 counties offer care
during nontraditional hours. Employers
interviewed in Anderson, Ford and Harvey
counties noted that their staffs struggle
to find care during nontraditional hours
or drop-in care for their children, which
affects the employees’ ability to maintain
Another factor that influences the
availability of care is simply the number of
child care providers and early education
facilities. While family and group day care
homes are the most common type of child
care facility in Kansas (2018), state licensing
regulations limit the number of children
they can care for. Each family must choose
the type of facility they are most interested
in for their child. Unfortunately, the
number of licensed family and group day
care homes has continued to decrease,
putting further strain on the already limited
capacity, and reducing choices for families.
16 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
NEW Child Care Workforce Report
While the child care landscape in
Kansas has experienced changes, one
thing remains the same. Kansas families
and employers need high-quality child
care that is accessible and affordable so
that parents can work and businesses can
grow — strengthening our economy and
ensuring strong leaders for our future.
To learn more about the availability of
child care in Kansas, and for information
about child care capacity in each county,
visit our website www.ks.childcareaware.
org to view the 2017 Child Care Supply
Demand Report: Child Care Availability
in Kansas and the 2018 Child Care Supply
Demand Report: The Landscape of Child
Care in Kansas; both reports take a closer
look at the factors that might impact
the supply and demand of child care in
By Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
They greet us with warm smiles, kind words and nurturing hearts. They protect and care for
our greatest treasures, our children. Who are these amazing individuals? They are Kansas
child care providers and early education professionals. Far more than just caregivers, they are
an integral part of a strong team that includes families, communities and employers.
What do we really know about this part of the team?
To help answer this question, Child Care Aware ® of Kansas reached out to child care providers
and early education professionals, and they responded with a wealth of information. In all,
1,188 professionals from a variety of early education settings, including licensed family and
group day care homes, child care centers, Head Start and Early Head Start, preschool and
school age programs, participated in a detailed survey.
The resulting report, Who Cares for Kansas Children? 2018 Kansas Child Care Work Study and
State Child Care Profile, takes a closer look at trends and changes in the early education field,
and offers strategies to ensure a strong and sustainable child care workforce.
Who are the child care providers and early education professionals in Kansas?
Among those responding to the survey, licensed family and group day care providers reported
45% are over the age of 50; 87% work 50 or more hours weekly; and 56% have been in their
current role in the early childhood field for more than 15 years. The largest percentage of
licensed family and group day care home providers, 87%, reported their ethnicity as Caucasian,
and 8% have earned a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.
Child care centers, Head Starts, Early Head Starts, preschools and school-age programs
responding to the survey reported that 36% of the lead teachers are 21-30 years of age; 44%
work 40-49 hours weekly; and 39% have been in their current role in the early childhood
field for 3-10 years. The largest percentage of lead teachers, 79%, reported their ethnicity as
Caucasian, and 6% have earned a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.
Why can working in child care be so hard?
A typical day for a child care provider includes long hours, often early mornings or late
evenings. They have to be flexible and creative to navigate all of the unique qualities of the
children in their program. They are problem-solvers: tackling differences in family schedules
and expectations at home as well as more complex
challenges — such as how children might be coping with
a separation/divorce, and variations in bedtime or nap
routines. For programs that offer to transport to/from
school, budget implications need to be factored in. Each
day is different. All of this for an average annual salary
of $19,981 and little to no benefits, such as access to
What changes have occurred in the early
During the past eight years the number of family and
group child care homes has decreased from 6,119 to
4,010. While child care centers have decreased only
1%, the overall capacity has increased 8%, showing a
trend that child care centers are growing in size but not
in the number of facilities. The demand for child care,
however, remains significant with 154,991 children
under the age of 6 with all available parents in the
To support families, new child care provider recruitment strategies need to be implemented
that will attract and keep educated, early education professionals in the early childhood field.
To help stabilize the workforce, Child Care Aware believes that child care providers and early
education professionals need access to low-cost training and support for continuing education,
so that they have current information and confidence about how to provide the best care possible
to children and families. And they need salary supplements to help them earn a living wage.
What can you do to support this passionate, hardworking team? To view the full report, check
out www.ks.childcareaware.org. n
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 17
Using Kansans’ Voices
to Inform Services
What do families need to thrive? What can we do to support
them? We know what the research says, but what do families
across Kansas have to say? A new initiative, Our Tomorrows, aims
to ask these questions and use the answers to create small changes
that can become big ripples.
Whether we interact with children in child care settings,
schools, home visits, doctors offices, churches, grocery stores,
or other settings, we all have a role to play in creating an
environment that supports families. Research tells us that one
caring adult can make all the difference for a struggling child or
resilience/). How can we build on this research and learn from
individual family stories to identify defining moments that can
alter the trajectory of a young child or offer a family the support
they need to get through a difficult time?
Individual stories provide a rich and powerful view into what
families need and want in order to thrive. Every family’s story is
Stories shape the way we view the world. They might reveal our
role in making the world a better place, or reveal views that are
negative and counterproductive.
The experiences we share with those closest to us become our
own story and can also resonate for generations to come.
The Center for Public Partnerships and Research at the
University of Kansas set a goal of gathering 1,000 family stories.
Some are stories of families who are truly thriving, and others are
from families who are just surviving. These stories may be used to
shape policy and programming decisions in your community and
across the country.
Stories are gathered using an innovative technology called
SenseMaker. SenseMaker asks the user to submit an experience
through a simple online tool. Next, the user answers several
questions about what the experience meant to him or her. It takes
between 10 and 15 minutes to complete the process, depending
on the length of the story.
After collecting stories over the next several months, the data
will be analyzed. Community SenseMaking sessions will be
offered to present the data and the anonymous stories. All those
attending will be given the opportunity to provide input on the
data patterns and the stories. From these sessions, we will identify
what types of stories we want to hear more of and what types
of stories we want to hear less of. Next, we will start generating
a menu of small nudges that can be implemented without
significant resources. In other words, what small changes are
within our control that might lead to more of the types of stories
we want for families?
We invite you to join is in our quest to build better tomorrows
for families in Kansas. You can share a story, get others to share
a story, or participate in community SenseMaking. Or you can
do all three. We want to hear from families of all kinds, so go
to http://bit.ly/OurTomorrows and submit your story today. If
you’d like to learn more about the project or would like for us to
come to your community or organization to talk about it, please
reach out to us at email@example.com. n
Director, Center for Public
Partnerships & Research
Jacqueline Counts, M.S.W., Ph.D., is the director of the
Center for Public Partnerships & Research. She received
her training at the University of California-Berkeley and
the University of Kansas. Previously, she was the Region
VII Project Officer for the Early Childhood Health and
Development Branch of the Maternal Child Health
Bureau of Health Resources and Services Administration.
Jacqueline has been the principal investigator on numerous
early childhood, systems-building, accountability and
evaluation projects. She was a co-founder of Lemonade for
Life, a program designed to support professionals in using
ACEs research to build hope and resilience with families.
You can follow her work on Twitter @Jackstercounts.
Amanda earned her Master’s degree in Digital Content
Strategy at the William Allen White School of Journalism
at the University of Kansas. She works primarily on
the Institute for the Advancement of Family Support
Professionals project along with communications
across the Center. You can find her writing on travel,
food, photography, and other interests on her website at
AmandaNWoodward.com and follow her on Twitter
Keil earned his Master’s degree in Peace Studies from
the UN-Mandated University for Peace in San Jose, Costa
Rica. He is an Assistant Researcher at the Center for Public
Partnerships and Research at the University of Kansas. You
can find Keil’s writings on conflict resolution, peace, and
politics on his blog, Octaguante or on Twitter @kleggers.
18 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Continued from page 11
in place, resulting in protected bike lanes
connecting major parts of the community?
Do city planners create ordinances to
promote development and housing close
together, or does it take a car to move
around a community? Does the family
have a limit on the amount of television
and screen time for their children?
The key point that the socio-ecological
model of health promotion nicely
portrays is that behavior is determined
by multiple factors across multiple levels.
By understanding this important point,
effective prevention and interventions
efforts can be developed. As a public
health researcher, my biggest challenge
is to develop programs that address all
levels of the socio-ecological model.
Training a third-grade teacher on how to
develop movement-based curriculums is
a great start; however, it should be part of
a larger plan that includes a schoolwide
policy including daily recess and physical
education. Bike lanes are wonderful!
However, if they do not account for
perceptions of the environment and are
placed right next to three lanes of highspeed
traffic and not protected, they might
not be used.
Figure 2. The number of childhood obesity programs
in the Kansas City area as distributed across the
socio-ecological model of health promotion.
Here’s the good news — Kansas City
is well-positioned to take meaningful
action. Weighing In completed an
extensive audit of all the programs
being offered in the area of childhood
obesity, specifically asking where the
programs were offered and who the
intended recipients were. It documented
260 individual programs, offered by
100 different organizations operating
in the Kanas City area. All relevant
populations and locations were included,
led by programs directed towards both
school-aged children (26%) and their
parents and families (18%). When
considering the socio-ecological model
of health promotion, we observed a
great distribution of programs across
the different levels (Figure 2), with
248 programs targeting individual
behaviors (e.g. healthy cooking classes),
333 programs (a program focused on
both bike lanes and parks would be
counted twice) targeting the social and
physical environment, and 143 programs
targeting policy (e.g. citywide Complete
Our goal at Weighing In is to make
sure these organizations and programs
are connected and working together as a
system. There are no simple solutions to
childhood obesity, so partnerships across
multiple sectors of society are critical.
The socio-ecological model of health
promotion is one framework we use to
help us understand the system. n
Huang, T. T., Brownson, R., Esposito, L., Green, L., & Homer, C.
(2013). Next steps in obesity prevention: applying the systems
approach. Child Obes, 9(1), 11-14. doi:10.1089/chi.2013.9102
Sallis, J. F., Cervero, R. B., Ascher, W., Henderson, K. A., Kraft, M.
K., & Kerr, J. (2006). An ecological approach to creating active
living communities. Annual Review of Public Health, 27, 297-322.
Sallis, J. F., Owen, N., & Fisher, E. (2015). Ecological models of health
behavior. Health behavior: Theory, research, and practice, 5, 43-64.
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 19
Investing in Kids
How ending extreme tax
policy freed Kansas lawmakers
to lift the next generation
Investments in early childhood
education are good for Kansas
children and families, businesses,
and our economy. Yet for many
years, investments in early childhood
were undermined by Gov. Sam
Brownback’s 2012 tax “experiment.”
Money was stolen from the
Children’s Initiative Fund as the state
failed to make revenue projections,
resulting in fewer kids receiving
vital services. Threats to securitize
the fund to pay off Kansas’ bills
failed, thanks to advocacy from
Kansans like you. Lawmakers ended
our state’s five-year experiment in
supply-side economics last year,
putting Kansas on a path to
With the budget crisis behind us,
lawmakers have been able to once again
invest in early childhood education. The
2017 education bill increased funding
for the 4-year-old at-risk program and
fully funded all-day kindergarten across
the state. This year, lawmakers returned
to Topeka and built on that progress,
avoiding risky tax plans that would
have jeopardized our state’s recovery
and making smart investments in early
These investments included restoring
previous cuts to programs such as Early
Childhood Block Grants, the Child Care
Quality Initiative, Autism Diagnosis,
Family Preservation, and the Healthy
Start/Home Visitor program. Lawmakers
also enhanced the budget for the Kansas
Preschool Program, Parents as Teachers,
and tiny-k (also known as Infant-Toddler
Services), as well as invested in a pilot
program to support early learning
opportunities in Wyandotte County (See
story on page 12).
According to Kansas Action for
Children, “Investments in high quality
early learning and development
opportunities are among the best ways
to ensure positive health, economic, and
education outcomes for every child.” There
is also a business case for these efforts.
Early childhood investments make good
economic sense. Evidence-based early
childhood programs support the healthy
development of children and can help
close the educational achievement gap.
Nobel laureate James Heckman recently
documented that “every dollar spent on
high-quality, birth-to-five programs for
disadvantaged children delivers a 13% per
annum return on investment.” It’s difficult
to imagine an ROI that good in the stock
When children start kindergarten
unprepared, it can lead to long-term
negative consequences, including later
dropping out of school. We can close that
educational achievement gap through
high-quality early childhood care and
education. This translates into better
outcomes — both in education, and in
20 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
Child Care as a Utility
Kansas Center for
Heidi Holiday is Executive Director of the Kansas
Center for Economic Growth. She previously served
as the Executive Director of the Rosedale Development
Association in Kansas City, KS. She holds a Bachelor’s
Degree from Bethel College and a Master’s Degree in
public administration from the Henry W. Bloch School of
Management at the University of Missouri Kansas City.
life. Businesses support these investments
and know that early education is a key
tool for ensuring the availability of quality
employees to meet growing demand.
Every family should have access to highquality,
affordable early childhood care and
education. We commend lawmakers for
taking steps the past two years to increase
Kansas’ investment in early childhood
programs and encourage them to continue
these investments. Our state’s recent tax
experiment is a vivid example of the both
the effects of budget and tax policy on
all facets of Kansas life, and the power of
Kansans to make a difference. n
One ever-present concern for Kansas
communities is access to quality,
affordable child care. While a multitude
of elements affect this seemingly simple
issue, the bottom line is that for many
communities, child care’s importance
and function rise to the level of any
Think about the following:
When businesses want to build
or expand, they look for access to
high-quality utilities central to their
development, such as electricity and
high-speed Internet access.
When families are looking to work
for these businesses, they, too, search
for the utility most important to their
development, child care.
Assistant Professor and
Extension Specialist, Early
Kansas State University
Thus, recruiting and retaining
businesses and their workers all boils
down to utilities. Child care is as
important a utility as electricity for many
communities. What good does lightningfast
Internet and a fully equipped
workspace do if the employees cannot
go to work because of a lack of quality
child care? Families need to provide safe,
nurturing, and quality care to their most
important investment — their children.
By shifting our perspective on child
care from thinking of it as private school
to likening it to a public utility, we can
reflect its central and essential nature to
child, family, and economic development.
www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 21
The Magical Richness of Books
For young children and their caregivers,
the world is increasingly rich, including
some delightful new
books. I went to our
library to visit with
the always helpful
librarians in search
of new books. I was
in heaven – could
have stayed there all
day and ignored closing time altogether!
Book or Bell
Book or Bell, written by Chris Barton
and illustrated by Ashley Spires, exactly
described my plight. Stop reading and exit
the library. It is time to move on, Alice.
I don’t want to. I want to be like Henry,
who finds a chapter book that so entrances
him, he simply stays put, no matter
what is happening at school, even lunch.
This book should be read with lots of
imaginative loud noises and time to look
at and describe the happenings on every
page. Adults will want to clone Henry,
who loves to read a good book more than
anything. The loudest bell in the world has
no effect. Only when Saturday comes does
Henry stop reading and go outdoors where
he can have fun and avoid chores.
The Other Ducks
Next, I was drawn to a book called
The Other Ducks, by Ellen Yeomans and
illustrated by Chris Sheban. Perhaps it
was because it made me think of my
5-year-old great-granddaughter Nadia.
She and her family just moved to a farm
where their first farm animals were 3
ducks. Or perhaps because it reminded
me of taking groups of preschool children
to duck ponds to feed ducks and to sing
Three Little Ducks That I Once Knew. In
the story, This Duck and That Duck are a
pair that discover the magic of swimming,
reflections and flying like birdy-birds.
They waddle into new adventures, migrate
out of their cold climate, then return to
raise a family.
The writing makes me smile: “And what
exactly is swimming?’ That Duck asked.
“This,” said This Duck. “It’s like waddling,
but in the water, I don’t think my feet are
touching bottom.” If I were a teacher,
I would want to have duck puppets for
Stick, by Irene Dickson, is the ultimate
book about sticks. I have taken pictures of
children playing with sticks everywhere I
have gone, even in Paris. The story begins
with “Find a stick, a very useful stick.” It
then shows all the things that a little boy
and his dog can do for hours with one of
nature’s favorite free toys. Throw it, write
with it, float it, balance it, etc. It makes
me want to grab my camera and go to
the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center,
where the playground is full of an endless
variety of sticks.
This month’s books encourage reading,
dialogue and creative play. Visit your local
library to find these and other wonderful
reads. One of the greatest riches of our
society is our local library. I celebrate all
of you who share a love of books with
children in your lives. It warms my heart
to think of you with children in your
laps, clustered in circles, lying in beds or
napping cots enjoying the amazing world
of stories; building literacy skills, nurturing
creativity, molding the next generation,
and celebrating relationships. n
22 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas
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