2018 Summer Kansas Child


School Readiness

A publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Summer 2018 Volume 17, Issue 3















Executive Director

Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas

Kansas Child

is a publication of

Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas

Executive Director

Leadell Ediger


BWearing Consulting

Angie Saenger, Deputy Director

Publication Design

Julie Hess Design

On the Cover

Marin Pratt, age 3, daughter

of Brian and Kendra Pratt,

from Bennington, KS,

enjoys playing on the school


Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,

1508 East Iron, Salina, KS 67401,

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financial support of the members

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sponsorships from our corporate,

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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.

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Don’t waste a day — each is a precious opportunity

Here’s a fact that should cause us all to reflect for a moment … there

are only 2,000 days between the time a baby is born and when he or

she will start kindergarten. 1 That is a powerful statement that should

give those of us in early childhood education a sense of urgency!

Years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Harvard University

neuroscientist Jack Shonkoff speak. It was there that I was

introduced to the now-accepted concept that “brains are built,

not born.” At the time, that concept was a radical shift in our

understanding of how children learn. Dr. Shonkoff is one of the

pioneers who recognized and preached that early opportunities

are when the brain architecture begins to form. Brain

architecture — I love the visual image those two words create.

Creating a foundation for learning is truly like a blueprint.

The first2000days website states that child development is

a “dynamic, interactive process that is not predetermined.

It occurs in the context of relationships, experiences and

environments.” I couldn’t agree more.

Did you know that the brain is one of the only organs not fully

developed at birth? This fact alone offers proof of the importance

of those precious first 2,000 days. This short window of time is so

critical for optimal development. Children need good health, strong

families and high-quality early learning experiences to help ensure that

they are ready for the more structured environment of the classroom.

If we have only 2,000 days of infancy, toddlerhood and preschool, we

need to ensure the appropriate services and opportunities are available

to these children and that families know how to access them. We also want

to make sure that families who have limited means know what resources are

available to help pay for the services. And finally, we want to ensure that all services

provided for children ages birth to 5 are of the highest quality possible. We still have

work to do in order to ensure those first 2,000 days create the most amazing brains

possible. Today’s babies will be Kansas’ workforce in the very near future!

This issue of Kansas Child is focused on many of the good things happening in Kansas

to support school readiness, including community stories (both urban and rural), tools

used by professionals and families, online resources and observations about helping

children transition from early childhood to formal schooling.

We welcome our colleagues at Wichita State University’s Community Engagement

Institute as our partner for this issue. Their work includes partnering with communities

and organizations to strengthen Kansas through education, leadership development,

facilitation, project management, and research. We appreciate their contributions.

Like all of us at Child Care Aware, they understand that every day is one of 2,000

opportunities to make a lasting difference in the life of a child.




p. 4

High-Quality Child Care

Leads to School Readiness......................4

School Readiness and Factors

for Academic Success...............................6

Common Measures

for Common Goals................................... 8

Creating a Collaborative Setting

for Early Childhood................................. 10

Creating Opportunities

Through Collaboration:

A Community Light................................ 10

Maximizing the Family Role

in School Readiness................................11

What’s a Healthy Transition from

Child Care to School Look Like?..............12

p. 16

What to Look for in a Quality

After-School Program..............................12

The School Readiness Framework..........13

Help Me Grow Kansas........................... 14

Screening 101...........................................15

The Importance of Developing

Self-Regulation Skills

Before Kindergarten................................ 16

Early Childhood Programs:

Improvements That Last.........................18

Early Childhood Learning

Makes a Difference.................................20

p. 20

Beautiful Bountiful

Brain-Building Books.............................. 22



Executive Director,

Children’s Alliance of Kansas

Christie Appelhanz is the executive director

of the Children’s Alliance of Kansas. She

previously led the Kansas Coalition for School

Readiness (now called the Partnership for

Early Success). Christie has served as a

member of the Seaman USD 345 School

Board since 2014. Her three children have

attended child care centers, state-funded

pre-K programs and the most wonderful

family child care home.

High-Quality Child Care Leads to


The sign hanging in Nancy

Fusaro’s kindergarten

classroom said it all:

Play is the work of children.

After 39 years as a teacher before

retiring to work as an early childhood

educator, Nancy Fusaro knows better than

most that every environment is a learning

environment that can either help or hinder

a child’s readiness for kindergarten.

“We’ve put too much attention on

academics for kindergarten and not enough

attention on building with cardboard boxes

and playing in the mud,” she said. “I want

our kids to be kids. You don’t need to count

to 10 if you only need three nails.”

A growing number of kids are being

served in state- and locally-funded pre-K

programs. And that’s a good thing. But as

policymakers work to expand access to

pre-K options, it’s important to remember

where some of the children who are bestprepared

for kindergarten spend their

early years – in high-quality child care.

Kindergarten and beyond

Early learning doesn’t wait for preschool

or kindergarten. Child care providers

— whether working in centers or homes

— recognize that from birth until the first

day of school children are learning at a

rapid pace.

“Physical, cognitive, social and

emotional development are all essential

ingredients of school readiness that are

learned in child care settings,” said Meggie

Mentzer, who for 16 years has run a home

child care in Topeka.

“Well before attending kindergarten,

kids gain experiences in my home that

4 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

help them not just be ready for school,

but for life. It looks like fun, and it is.

It’s also definitely learning – shapes,

colors, cutting, letter recognition,

number recognition, reading readiness,

following directions, paying attention and

developing social skills.”

Child care providers are uniquely

positioned to provide the kinds of

experiences that wire the young brain

to build the necessary skills for lasting

success. Children have opportunities

to learn individually, from each other

and in small groups. They do this by

experimenting, observing and participating

with other children and adults.

“If child care is high quality it

is indistinguishable from early

education,” says Anne Maack,

Coordinator of Early Childhood

Initiatives at the Wichita State University

Community Engagement Institute.

Reaping benefits for children

and their parents

A growing body of research backs up the

benefits. Children who have high-quality

child care gain major intellectual and

development advantages that last into high

school, according to a long-running U.S.

National Institutes of Health study. The

study showed that children scored higher

on measures of academic and cognitive

achievement years later as teenagers

and were less likely to act out. Quality

for child care was measured by the time

the provider spent interacting with the

children as well as warmth, support and

cognitive stimulation.

School readiness isn’t about

worksheets, being drilled on

multiplication tables or reading by age

4. Instead, child care prepares students by

surrounding them with developmentally

appropriate books and toys as well

as access to caregivers equipped to

individualize activities – all so a child can

play and explore at their own pace.

“Never underestimate what a young

child can learn,” Mentzer said. “We learn

science by chasing butterflies, math by

counting blocks and language arts by

making stories come to life through


Parents develop their own version of

school readiness skills through child

care. A study at the University of Texas at

Austin found that parents who enrolled

their children in child care were more

involved in school life as their kids got

older. In addition to the parents’ increased

involvement in their child’s academic life,

kids found it easier to adjust to formal

schooling after going to child care.

Building partnerships with K-12

Pre-K is the fastest growing sector in

public education. But despite opportunities

to better align K-12 and early care, these

systems have sometimes been reluctant to

work as partners. Early education requires

school administrators to step outside

traditional K-12 models of teaching.

Simply pushing down highly structured

grade school practices on preschoolers

doesn’t work.

A former superintendent said that

initially he didn’t want to collaborate with

private child care providers because he

“thought that the district could do a better

job.” With experience, however, he found,

“Public schools are in no better position

to run a comprehensive pre-K program

than private providers…Mixed delivery is

the way to go.”

Many state pre-K initiatives offer only

part-day programs. Full-day services

are critical to meet the diverse needs of

young children and their working parents,

particularly for low-income or solesupport

parents and those who can’t take

off from work to provide transportation

between programs.

Child care quality without availability

is not the complete package,” Maack said.

“Barriers to child care for working parents

are so real.”

Collaborative pre-K programs are not

easy to construct, and there’s no onesize-fits-all

strategy. A key component,

however, is partnering with child care

providers who offer longer hours with

before and after school care. This can

enable programs to expand from half day

to full day and from school year to full

year. Another promising solution is to

allow parents to choose between public

or private providers with payments by the

state made directly to providers.

No matter what the arrangement,

experts warn against causing harm to

the child care industry. When parents

pull 4-year-olds out of private child

care for government-funded pre-K,

it unbalances the financial

sustainability equation for

private providers. Caring

for an infant costs roughly

Continued on page 6

The following

is a list of

skills typical

for children




Plays short games from

beginning to end.


Can put on his/her own coat.


Knows basic safety rules.


Pays attention to directions.


Recognizes numbers, colors

and most letters.


Likes to read, sing, tell stories

and take turns in conversation.

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 5

Continued from page 5

three times as much as caring for a

preschooler, and the differences in

tuition between these two age groups

don’t cover the differences in costs.

Public pre-K initiatives that lack

strong ties to child care have been

shown to lead to higher child care

costs, reduced employment, fewer

options and lower lifetime earnings

for parents with younger children.

Collaboration is essential to keep

options available for parents. K-12 and

child care might benefit by sharing

resources, such as expertise, staffing,

professional development, facilities

and curriculum and materials.

Measuring Success

While we already know

high-quality child care leads to

kindergarten readiness, Kansans are

about to get more data. The Kansas

State Board of Education identified

kindergarten readiness as a priority

outcome area to measure. Beginning

in the fall of 2018, every district in

Kansas will utilize a developmentally

appropriate snapshot tool to look

at social, emotional and academic

preparedness as students embark on

their K-12 educational careers.

“The question is not, is a child

ready for kindergarten, but rather is

the kindergarten classroom ready for

the child,” said Colleen Riley, Director

of Early Childhood at the Kansas

State Department of Education.

The goal of the new system is to

identify individuals who need extra

academic support and communities

where high rates of children aren’t

ready for kindergarten. Aligning

expectations might also help early

childhood educators provide a

consistent experience across settings

and prevent children from entering

kindergarten with widely varying

levels of social and academic readiness.

New data might help shape policy,

but it is unlikely to change practices

early childhood professionals long

have known prepare children for

lifelong success.

“The best things parents and

providers can do is interact with

children,” Fusaro said. “The more

books you can read to your child the

better prepared they will be for just

about everything.” n

School Readiness and

Factors for Academic Success

Sending a child to kindergarten is often

a time of excitement for families. Many

wonder if their child is ready for this big

step into their education. Being ready for

school is a combination of a lot of factors

that research has shown typically fall into

either 1) risks for falling behind or 2)

stepping stones for climbing to the top.

Collectively these are often referred to as

risk factors and protective factors, and a

variety of them affect school readiness.

The risk and protective factors for school

readiness are a complex array of biological,

social, and contextual influences that

make decoding the puzzle of how to

prepare children for school difficult to

decipher. Although it is complex, several

factors have bubbled to the top in terms of

their influence on school readiness with

research showing sufficient evidence to

conclude they are important to student

outcomes. These factors are:


Family Income


Engagement in Early Learning


Educational Attainment of Parents


Positive Parenting


Parent-Child Conversational Exchange


Speaking English at Home


Exposure to Reading

Perhaps the leading factor in school

readiness is family income. The risk

factors associated with poor school

readiness stemming from low income

include potential delays in cognitive,

social-emotional, and self-regulatory

development. According to previous

research, delayed cognitive development

along with social-emotional and regulatory

risk factors in early childhood have been

found to be strongly linked to low income

and the deficiency of available resources

(Duncan, Brooks‐Gunn, & Klebanov,1994;

Linver, Brookes-Gunn, & Kohen, 2002;

Isaacs, 2012; Pratt, McClelland, Swanson,

& Lipscomb, 2016). Many of the other

factors listed are often exacerbated by

and inextricably linked to characteristics

associated with poverty.

The availability of early learning

experiences, with the primary focus

being on preschool or “PreK,” is regularly

related to income. Although the outcomes

associated with PreK are mixed, the

Brookings Institution determined PreK

has the most promise for improving school

readiness (Isaacs, 2012). Recently, McCoy

and colleagues (2017) determined studies

conducted from 1960-2016 indicated

classroom-based early childhood education

reduced negative outcomes, such as

children being held back a grade, and

increased high school graduation rates.

These longer-term benefits highlight the

importance of quality PreK for academic

success. For example, high-quality PreK

experiences in classrooms where literacy

was explicitly addressed was found to

improve language and literacy at the end of

PreK and on through kindergarten as well

(Chambers, Cheung, & Slavin, in press).

Experiences in early learning classrooms

and settings might affect a child’s school

readiness. However, factors related to the

immediate context of the child’s family

can also have a significant influence.

Educational attainment of the parents

(especially maternal education) has been

found to be a significant risk factor for

child development (McWayne, C. M.,

Hahs-Vaughn, D. L., Cheung, K., & Wright,

L. E. G., 2012). For example, children with

less educated parents who suffer from

difficulties with reading might not be

Experiences in early learning classrooms and settings might affect a

child’s school readiness. However, factors related to the immediate

context of the child’s family can also have a significant influence.

engaged with reading activities, which then

lead to setbacks for the child upon entering

school. Conversely, there is some research

to suggest that low-income mothers with

a college degree have children with similar

outcomes as higher income peers.

Additionally, parenting styles can be

associated with low education and poverty,

and can affect children’s success. Research

has found supportive, skilled parenting

improves cognition, social-emotional

6 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Perhaps the leading factor in school readiness is family income.



Engagement in

Early Learning


Attainment of









at Home


to Reading

By targeting the most

predominant risk and

protective factors and

promoting evidence-based

interventions, educators and

policymakers can promote

school readiness in Kansas.

regulatory skills, language and literacy

knowledge, and has an overall positive

effect on readiness, while harsh, neglectful

styles of parenting had the adverse effect

(Webster-Stratton, C. H., Reid, M. J. &

Beauchaine, T., 2011; Dotterer, A. M., Iruka,

I. U., & Pungello, E.,2012; Isaacs, J. B.,2012).

Related to parenting, language and

literacy skills are fundamental to being on

track upon entry into school. Children who

come from households that do not speak

English as the first language could be at a

disadvantage in U.S. schools. For instance,

students who experience difficulty with

English might exhibit delays during early

childhood and well past kindergarten

(Hoff, E., 2003; Forget-Dobois, N.,

Lemelin, J. P., Pérusse, D., Tremblay, & R.

E., Boivin, M., 2009). However, maternal

speech abilities, exposure to reading

during early childhood, and conversational

language can mediate these effects and

promote school readiness.

Research provides a consistent picture

of the key factors that affect a child’s

ability to begin school on the best footing.

By targeting the most predominant risk

and protective factors and promoting

evidence-based interventions, educators

and policymakers can promote school

readiness in Kansas. The long-term

prosperity of individual families,

communities and the state depends on

the optimal development of children

during this critical period. This summary

represents a brief compilation of the

most relevant research on the risk factors

affecting school readiness. To learn more

about the most relevant research on risk

factors that affect school readiness, or to

see risk factors by county in Kansas visit

https://schoolready.caretools.org. n



Kansas Children’s Cabinet

and Trust Fund’s Common

Measures Initiative

Lynn Schrepferman, Ph.D., has more than 20

years of experience in research, evaluation,

and implementation of evidence-based

prevention and interventions for children

and families. She has worked for community

organizations, school districts, state agencies,

and held federally funded grants. Among other

projects, Dr. Schrepferman is currently the lead

evaluator for the Kansas Children’s Cabinet

and Trust Fund’s Common Measures Initiative,

where she leads the evaluation of 17 grantees.


Chambers, B., Cheung, A., Slavin, R.E. (in press) Literacy and Language Outcomes

of Comprehensive and Developmental-Constructivist Approaches to Early Childhood

Education: A Systematic Review. Educational Research Review.

Dotterer, A. M., Iruka, I. U., & Pungello, E. (2012). Parenting, race, and socioeconomic

status: Links to school readiness. Family Relations, 61(4), 657-670.

Duncan, Greg J., Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, and Pamela Kato Klebanov. (1994). Economic

deprivation and early childhood development. Child Development,65.(2), 296-318.

Forget-Dobois, N., Lemelin, J. P., Pérusse, D., Tremblay, & R. E., Boivin, M. (2009).

Early childhood language mediates the relation between home environment and school

readiness. Child Development, 80(3), 736-749.

Hoff, E. (2003). The specificity of environmental influences: Socioeconomic status affects

early vocabulary development via maternal speech. Child Development, 74, 1368–1378.

Isaacs, J. B. (2012). Starting School at a Disadvantage: The School Readiness of Poor

Children. The Social Genome Project. Center on Children and Families at Brookings.

Linver, M. R., Brookes-Gunn, J., & Kohen, D. E. (2002). Family processes as pathways from

income to young children’s development. Developmental Psychology, 38(5), 719-734.

McCoy, D. C., Yoshikawa, H., Ziol-Guest, K. M., Duncan, G. J., Schindler, H. S., Magnuson,

K., Yang, R., Koepp, A., & Shonkoff, J. P. (2017). Impacts of Early Childhood Education on

Medium-and Long-Term Educational Outcomes. Educational Researcher, 46(8), 474-487.

McWayne, C. M., Hahs-Vaughn, D. L., Cheung, K., & Wright, L. E. G. (2012). National

profiles of school readiness skills for Head Start children: An investigation of stability and

change. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(4), 668-683.

Pratt, M. E., McClelland, M. M., Swanson, J., & Lipscomb, S. T. (2016). Family risk profiles

and school readiness: A person-centered approach. Early Childhood Research Quarterly,

36, 462-474.

Webster-Stratton, C. H., Reid, M. J. & Beauchaine, T. (2011). Combining parent and

child training for young children with ADHD. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent

Psychology 40(2), 191-203.

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 7




Measures for

Common Goals

Measuring success can

come in many forms.

When looking at multiple

programs in multiple locations,

there is great temptation to use

unique measurements for each.

Unfortunately, doing so makes

it impossible to determine

whether the same outcomes are

being met across locations or


This is certainly true for

programs intended to help

children and their families.

Innovation and addressing

contextual needs changes how a

program might be delivered in

one place versus another or in

selecting which program to use.

However, if the ultimate goals

are the same, those goals must

be measurable in some common

way in order to determine if

they are being achieved.

In 2013, the Kansas

Children’s Cabinet and Trust

Fund (KCCTF) established the

visionary process of instituting

a Common Measures Initiative

(CMI) in order to answer these


“What difference do early

childhood programs make,” and,

“How do the outcomes relate to

the goals of the KCCTF?”

The primary goal of the CMI

was to establish measures that

could be used throughout the

state for similar programs to

determine the risk of a child

falling behind and to document

the intended outcomes

associated with participation

in early childhood programs

funded by the Children’s

Initiative Fund (CIF). The CMI

does this by implementing

scientifically sound tools that

measure a core set of targeted

outcomes for ability, skills,

and achievement across a

variety of programs. Statistical

analysis of the common data

measures offers stakeholders an

objective demonstration of the

effectiveness of the programs, as

well as identifies opportunities

for improvement.

Selection of the

Common Measures

The common measures

that were selected were those

that would most accurately

document child, family, and

classroom outcomes for the

widest possible range of grantee

programs. The measures were

chosen using the following


Senior Research Associate,

Center for Applied Research and Evaluation (CARE),

Wichita State University

Cassandra LeBrun-Martin is a Senior Research Associate at the

Center for Applied Research and Evaluation (CARE) at Wichita State

University’s Community Engagement Institute (CEI). Her focus is on

early childhood projects throughout Kansas. She received her Master’s

degree in Sociology in 2013 and her Bachelor’s degree in 2011 from

Wichita State University.

Established reliability and

validity. Psychometrics is

the science of examining the

qualities of assessments used

to measure various skills

and abilities. Psychometric

properties, such as reliability

and validity, are essential for

being able to interpret what

is being measured and to

apply those measurements

to a population of individuals

rather than a single person.

Reliability determines how

effectively a tool consistently

measures information across

various circumstances.

An assessment is reliable

when data are unchanging

regardless of who

administers the assessment

and when and where it is

completed. If a tape measure

is used to record a child’s

height in inches at three

different times in one day

by three different people in

three different locations, it is

expected the results will be

similar. The tape measure is

a reliable tool that produces

consistent data across

different situations. Validity

determines whether an

instrument measures what

it is supposed to measure.

For example, a tape measure,

while valid for measuring

height or length, would not

be a valid way to measure

an individual’s weight. To

measure weight validly,

someone would need to use a

different tool, such as a scale.

There are multiple ways to

determine if a particular tool

is measuring what it claims

to measure, but not all tools

have published research to

indicate that validity.

Despite what most would

wish, the concepts related to

early childhood intervention

are not as simple or

straightforward as height and

weight. In order for a tool to

be deemed reliable and valid,

extensive research is done

on the tool or “instrument”

to ensure it is measuring

the concept is it designed

to (validity) and does so

consistently (reliability). The

common measures chosen

for the concepts most

valuable to CIF programs and

the KCCTF had published

research that explained how

each instrument met these

fundamental criteria.

Sensitivity to change. Some

instruments can be valid and

reliable, but are not able to

capture change across time.

A measure that is sensitive to

change has to have the ability

to reflect a child’s growth and

development. Because of the

importance of measuring

growth or change, particularly

for the children involved

in CIF-funded programs,

sensitivity to change was

considered to be essential for

the outcome measures being


8 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Kansas Early Childhood Block Grantees

Normed to reflect

typical development.

“Norming” refers to the

process of identifying

what would be considered

typical development or

achievement of expected

developmental milestones.

For example, the average

age at which a child

walks, talks, and develops

certain motor skills

would be considered the

norm. This would be the

standard against which

a child’s performance

would be measured.

Instruments that are

not normed cannot

accurately determine

whether a child is on track

developmentally compared

to other children with

similar characteristics and


Current use by programs.

Special consideration was

given to reliable, valid, and

normed measures already

being used by grantees for

the purpose of continuity

and ease of adoption.

The map above reflects where

the common measures are being

used across the state of Kansas

by the Early Childhood Block

Grant (ECBG). The Kansas ECBG

is administered by the Kansas

Children’s Cabinet and Trust

Fund. These funds are distributed

through grants to school districts,

child care centers and homes,

Head Start sites, and community

programs that provide researchbased

child development services

for at-risk infants, toddlers and

their families, and preschool for

three- and four-year olds.

Usefulness for continuous

quality improvement. The

selected measures would be

of little value if they were not

useful to grantees in making

decisions about programs.

Measures were selected

with the goal of providing

both data on outcomes

and targeted information

regarding the quality of

services to children and


Consistent with the

outcomes identified in

the KCCTF Blueprint for

Early Childhood. In order

to identify the impact of

KCCTF funding, the common

measures align specifically

with outcomes related to

Healthy Development, Strong

Families, and Early Learning.

After evaluating the available

instruments for measuring

early childhood outcomes,

the following measures were


Ages and Stages

Questionnaire, 3rd Edition

(ASQ-3) and the Ages and

Stages Questionnaire:

Social-Emotional, 2nd

Edition (ASQ:SE-2)

Devereux Early Childhood

Assessment (DECA)

Individual Growth and

Development Indicators


P3-myIGDIs Literacy

myIGDIs Literacy+ and


Home Observation for

the Measurement of the

Environment (HOME)


Keys to Interactive

Parenting Scale (KIPS)

Classroom Assessment

Scoring System (CLASS)

Each of these measures

provides programs with the

data they need to serve their

children and families to the

best of their abilities. From

social-emotional development,

to academic gains, to classroom

quality and home visiting,

these common instruments

provide a foundation for

understanding what is working

and what is not. While by no

means a final judgement, they

offer valuable information to

help those who help Kansans

improve their lives and


If you would like more

information on the common

measures, please visit the

Resources page on https://


You can also visit https://

maps.caretools.org/ to see

where the common measures

are being used across Kansas

by the Early Childhood Block

Grant (ECBG). n


Halle, T., Zaslow, M., Wessel, J., Moodie, S., and

Darling-Churchill, K. (2011). Understanding

and Choosing Assessments and Developmental

Screeners for Young Children: Profiles of

Selected Measures. Washington, DC: Office of

Planning, Research, and Evaluation,

Administration for Children and Families, U.S.

Department of Health and Human Services.

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 9

Creating a Collaborative

Setting for Early Childhood

Twenty years ago something fantastic happened in Pittsburg, KS. The doors of The

Family Resource Center opened for business. It started as an idea that a bunch of

people dreamed up.

It was meant to be a place for kids and families. To provide a culture of investments

of time and money in what brain research told us — that early investments in children

pay off. It offers a culture of respect and caring about all different kinds of kids and

families, while breaking down barriers and building bridges. It provides a work

environment that is based on meaningful work, every day.

The hope 20 years ago was that we could stay open for a bit, and that someone would

see the benefit. We wanted folks to get the connection between health and education and

its effect on some kids. We also wanted to provide a bridge for parents to go to school

and work. What we got was all that, plus much more.

The Center was founded in 1995 and is supported by USD 250 Pittsburg Community

Schools, Pittsburg State University and Via Christi Hospital - Pittsburg. The Center is

one of the largest child care centers in the state. It is licensed by KDHE for 338 children


Executive Director,

The Family Resource Center

Ann has worked at The Family Resource

Center since 2000. It’s her job to monitor

the quality and appropriateness of new

programming and services; to promote

the Center for community support and

involvement; to implement and oversee

policy and procedures; to engage in shortand

long-term planning; to secure funding

through grant writing and donations;

and to act as a liaison to agencies and

collaborating organizations.

Continued on page 17




Collaboration: A

Community Light

The Ell-Saline School District is a rural

area west of the city of Salina. The district

includes the western area of Saline County

and eastern area of Ellsworth County.

There are no preschools available within

the district for our families and students.

This lack of access to high-quality, early

learning experiences creates challenges for

families living within the district. Parents

must have the financial resources, necessary

transportation and knowledge of

available services to provide

preschool programming to their

children. Many of our students

have benefitted from private

preschool programs available in

Salina or Ellsworth. However,

each year a few of our new

kindergartners arrive with no

or minimal previous learning

experiences. There is a significant

gap between their kindergarten

readiness and the readiness of their

peers who had access to quality


In an effort to fill this void, two years

ago Ell-Saline Elementary implemented

a preschool day camp program. The

day camps provided a monthly, halfday

learning experience. The program

was funded through grant dollars from

community organizations. The money

covered the cost of transportation,

supplies, snacks, take-home books, and

the cost of hiring substitute teachers

to cover the classrooms of teachers

committed to the day camps. Our

future kindergarten students were able

to attend the day camp at no cost to their


The monthly preschool day camps made

our preschool planning team aware of

the increasing need to provide preschool

programming within our district. The area

Parents as Teachers program has dissolved

because of funding changes made at the

state level. Too many of our students

were entering kindergarten without early

learning experiences and without the

opportunity to receive screenings for speech

and language, vision and hearing. As a

result, the preschool planning team ramped

up its efforts. Parent representatives joined

the team. Community collaborations and

partnerships were formed in an effort to

address kindergarten readiness for our


As we look toward our first year of

preschool, the planning team is eager

to see the positive changes that this

implementation brings. Kindergarten

readiness is critical for setting up children

for success on their academic journey.

We hope to see kindergarten students

and their families easily transition into

the all-day academic setting, because

10 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Maximizing the Family

Role in School Readiness

The overall goal of Parents as Teachers

(and many of our early childhood partner

programs) is to ensure that every child

enters kindergarten on a level playing field

with their peers, ready to learn. School

readiness often is defined as the child being

ready to successfully participate and learn

in kindergarten. What we have discovered

through observation and research is

that parents who are more confident in

their parenting and more engaged in

their children’s schooling lead to school

readiness and achievement. Children who

enter kindergarten ready to learn continue

to do well in elementary school, and are

more likely to graduate

from high school and

be successful in

life. The key

factor in the

success of

a child is


a family

that is


in their


and overall

well-being. By focusing on the role of the

family, we can better ensure that children

enter kindergarten ready to learn.

How can we shift the focus to

also highlight that every FAMILY is

kindergarten ready? If our families are

ready, our health and mental health

systems are ready, our early care and

education systems are ready, our schools

are ready and our community is ready

— then ALL of OUR children will be

READY! The role of the family is to ensure

safe, stable and nurturing environments

and to support caregivers with culturally

and developmentally appropriate

information and education. To maximize

the family role we must connect families

with community resources to meet basic

needs as well as provide supportive

systems in which families can thrive. As

we continue to effectively work to make

children a top priority by supporting

families, early childhood development,

policies and investments, we focus on the

goal that all children entering kindergarten

are ready to succeed.

To maximize the family role we must

build upon parental passion and the

assets parents bring, with opportunities


Executive Director,

Kansas Parents as Teachers


Callie has been with Parents as Teachers for

18 years — first as a parent, then as a parent

educator — and currently as the Executive

Director of Kansas Parents as Teachers

Association (KPATA). KPATA is a statewide,

nonprofit organization that supports early

childhood education programs, with a parent

education component. She is also a board

member of the Paola Rotary Club, USD 368

District Site Council, Linn County Children’s

Coalition, and Miami County Connect Kansas.

She holds a BA in Family Life and Community

Service from Kansas State University.

for parents to contribute their talents and

resources. Strengthening families means

supporting family members close to

young children, including grandparents

as well as parents, and drawing upon all

the resources available to young children.

Strong relationships are rooted in trust

and comfort, which you can build by being

genuine, sincere, curious about them and

their goals, and supporting them as they

work toward those goals. The research is

very clear that the support children receive

from their families and communities is

key to their growth, development and

sustained success. n

they will be familiar

with our school

routines, instructors, and building

expectations. We are eager to build, at an

early age, the positive family relationships

that begin a solid foundation of trust

between the parents and educators. Our

goal is to build partnerships with parents

that will support a team approach in

helping all children in our district feel like

they have multiple people in our school

community supporting them.

Because students will be able receive

intervention services before entering

kindergarten for specific areas, such as

speech and language and occupational

therapy, our students will get a head start

on supports that can have a significant

effect on their growth. Kindergarten

teachers are eager to see the academic gap

close between those students who have

had early learning opportunities and those

students who simply couldn’t afford the


Kindergarten Teacher,

Ell-Saline Elementary School

Emily Komarek has taught for nine years,

four at Ell-Saline Elementary. She teaches

kindergarten, and is a member of the Building

Leadership Team. She was a co-lead for the

Ell-Saline Preschool Day Camps. Last year,

Mrs. Komarek served on the Kansas State

Department of Education Kindergarten work

group charged with developing a guidance

document for developmentally appropriate

kindergarten classrooms.


High-quality, early learning

opportunities play a critical role in the

academic success of students. While our

district is fortunate to have community

support and partnerships to provide this

opportunity for our students, we want to



Ell-Saline Elementary School

Dana Sprinkle is in her 24th year in education.

Mrs. Sprinkle has been the elementary

principal at Ell-Saline for 11 years after serving

as a classroom teacher for 13 years. Last May,

she completed her district level certification

through Emporia State University. She was a

National Distinguished Principal in 2017 and

in October traveled to Washington, D.C., to

represent Kansas and Ell-Saline schools, staff,

and students.

encourage other districts to seek ways to

make early learning opportunities available

to students and their families. Developing

collaborative partnerships, accessing

community resources and including

passionate patrons in the process makes all

the difference. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 11

What’s a Healthy Transition from Child Care to School Look Like?

By Adriana Skinner,

Health Policy Associate

All across the country, little ones

are going to school for the first

time. Whether starting a brand

new routine after being cared

for in a home-based setting or a

child care center, going to “bigkid

school” is a big deal!

It is a lot of change and some

of the changes can affect a

child’s health. For instance, the

amount of active playtime and

the kind of meals being served

will be different.

The Transition from Meals at

Home to Meals at School

Cafeteria meals is just one of

the big changes in store for

children who are starting school.

Children cared for at home or in

many child care settings might

be used to “family style meals,”

where foods are placed on the

table, kids are encouraged to

serve themselves and everyone

sits and enjoys the meal

together at one table or at small

tables with groups of children.

Transitioning to cafeteria tables

in kindergarten, going through a

cafeteria line to pick up their tray

and eating with new friends will

be different.

Another difference is what’s on

the menu. School meals are

required to follow guidelines

where fat, sodium, and added

sugars are limited, which keeps

the foods kids eat healthy and

nutritious. The food served

might be different from what

was served in child care, as

many child care programs

follow the Child and Adult Care

Food Program (CACFP) meal

requirements. The CACFP

meal pattern requirements

help make sure that children

establish good habits and

develop a foundation that

includes a nutritious diet so

they grow healthy and strong.

School food will also be

different from what is served

at home. Be prepared for a

transition period with extra,

healthy snacks available for

kids when they get home. They

might be hungry as they get

used to trying new things.

The Integration of Active Play

into a Child’s Day

Another change that can affect

a child’s health is active play.

Summertime typically is filled

with time to play outside. As

children transition into school,

they have less time to play and

move around during the school

day than they did at home or in

child care. While there might be

less active play in kindergarten,

the good news is that parents

and care providers can continue

to support active play after the

school bell rings. Play games

like “duck, duck, goose,” for

instance. You can find tips on

how to incorporate active play at

home here http://kidshealth.org/



Probably the biggest transitions

for the little ones are the changes

in their environments and

routines. These changes may lead

to changes in behavior, because

there are a lot of new feelings and

emotions that can occur as they

transition to school.

Because kindergarten has

more structure, a bigger focus

on academics, and more time

sitting at desks, it’s important to

prepare your child for their new

environment. The best way to

prepare is to talk about it. Before

school starts, talk to your child

about what things will be like

at school, how they’ll meet new

people, learn new things, and

make new friends. n

Reprinted with permission from Child Care

Aware ® of America| August 22, 2017 |Back to

School, Health and Safety Blog

What to Look for in a Quality After-school Program

By Julie Keller

Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

Intern, The Afterschool Alliance

Backpack, paper, pencils, and

homework folder: for many families,

that’s the standard shopping list for

back-to-school season. However, one

key item is missing: your child’s afterschool

program! Choosing the perfect

program for your child to make the

transition from early child care to

aftercare might seem daunting, but it

doesn’t have to be.

After-school programs are a great

way to keep your child safe, inspire

them to learn, and introduce them

to positive role models. Rather than

spending the hours after school

sitting at home, after-school programs

can provide students with a snack,

academic enrichment, and a range of

engaging and interactive activities,

including: painting, poetry, science

experiments, reading, theater, foreign

languages, sports, cooking, and more!

With so many choices, how is a

parent to decide what is the right

program? Well, these important

qualities can guide your decision and

ensure your child’s success:


Low child-to-staff ratio


A positive emotional climate


A clearly structured program


Appropriate supervision


Activities that promote

autonomy and choice


Continuity with the regular

school day n

Reprinted with permission from Child Care Aware ® of

America| August 15, 2017 | Back to School, Background

Checks, Health and Safety, Quality Blog

12 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

The School



School readiness begins at

birth and is the foundation across early

childhood systems, services and programs.

Success means children are ready for school,

families are ready to support their children’s

learning, and schools are ready for children.

Children need opportunities to develop

skills, knowledge and behaviors to succeed

in school. Early childhood experiences

should ensure not only the health and

well-being of the child, but also encourage

the development of cognitive, language,

and social-emotional skills that are

necessary for school success and have a

direct influence on a child’s future. School

readiness includes the whole child within

the context of the family and community.

Healthy children with involved families

and supportive communities enter

kindergarten ready to succeed.

The Kansas vision for school readiness is

represented by the Kansas School Readiness

Framework. This framework represents

four components of school readiness: the

community, educational environment,

family and the individual child. They all

function as interdependent systems that

have multi-directional influences.


Ready communities enable each child

and family to live in a safe and stable

environment that supports their

healthy development and learning.

Comprehensive, coordinated and

accessible services meet the multiple needs

of children and families. Communities

embrace the concept of providing varied,

quality experiences that prepare children

for success.






Educational Environment:

Ready educational environments (home-based,

center-based and school-based settings)

effectively provide evidence-based safe,

high-quality learning experiences for every

child. Serving children from birth, these

experiences support healthy

development and learning and

actively engage families in

their children’s education.





Ready families, in a variety

of forms, serve as the primary

foundation for their children.

Ready families provide safe, stable and

nurturing environments that promote

healthy development and learning.



Ready children are competent in

development milestones that are

individually and age appropriate. These

milestones are in the areas of health and

physical well-being, social and emotional

competence, cognition and general

knowledge, communication and literacy.

Kindergarten Readiness guiding principles:








From birth, children are ready to learn. Parents, families, and caregivers are

children’s first teachers.

Learning is a lifelong activity and every environment is a learning environment.

Children’s success in school and in life is everyone’s responsibility. Communities,

educational environments, families and children are ready to support success.

School readiness involves the whole child in the context of the family and the community.

This includes the child’s health and development in the following areas: physical, social,

emotional, cognitive and general knowledge, communication, and literacy.

Integrated services that are appropriate to the age, abilities, language, and culture are

available to each child.

Schools are ready to support the success of each child, recognizing their wide range of

cultural and linguistic backgrounds, learning experiences, and differences in abilities.

A strong, direct connection exists between the quality of children’s health and experiences

in the early years and their later success in school and in life. School readiness in Kansas

depends on involvement from public policy, funding, and system supports.

For further information about the Kansas School Readiness Framework, visit http://

www.ksde.org/Portals/0/Early%20Childhood/Kindergarten/KindergartenInKansas.pdf n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 13


Help Me


Have you heard? Kansas is embarking on an exciting journey

with Help Me Grow, a national initiative aimed at ensuring early

identification and connections to services that lead to the best

outcomes for all children. The vision of Help Me Grow Kansas

is: “Kansas families have equitable access to seamless,

comprehensive screenings, supports and services that

ensure the well-being and lifelong success of all Kansas

children.” Achieving this vision will require the

collective effort of families, providers, and leaders

from across the state.

Help Me Grow is not a stand-alone program or

a directive. It is a framework for thinking about

existing early detection and referral systems in

communities and how these systems might be

best leveraged for the greatest good. Help Me

Grow has four core components, or what we

might think of as system priorities:


A Centralized Access Point ensures

families and providers have a “go-to” place

to turn to when they have a question

about a child’s development. In addition,

keeping up-to-date resource directories

empowers providers to connect families to

the services and supports they need.


Family & Community Outreach guides

education efforts around children’s

developmental health and increases

awareness of services available to families.


Child Health Care Provider Outreach

helps identify medical provider

champions committed to children’s

developmental health, provides training

and education opportunities, and

ensures medical providers are kept in

the loop about referral outcomes and

services received.


Data Collection supports evaluation,

helps identify systemic gaps, bolsters

advocacy efforts, and guides quality

improvement to ensure we are all

growing and learning from this


Continued on page 17


Assistant Director at

the Center for Public

Partnerships and Research

Jessica Looze is an Assistant Director at

the Center for Public Partnerships and

Research (CPPR). She works on a variety

of early childhood and maternal and child

health projects, including Early Childhood

Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) Impact,

Healthy Start, and Help Me Grow.

14 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

As providers of early childhood

care and education (ECE), we can

support families in preparing their child

for kindergarten by ensuring the child

is developing on track and receiving

appropriate interventions. We can make

sure this happens by ensuring that children

we serve receive developmental screenings.

A child might receive a developmental

screening by a Parents as Teachers or Early

Head Start home visitor, by a pediatrician,

or through other community screenings.

The Individuals with Disabilities

Education Act (IDEA), which regulates

special education services for children

birth-21, requires community-based

developmental screenings to identify



Rainbows United

Audra Kenneson coordinates the mental

health services at Rainbows United,

where each year in Sedgwick and Butler

counties more than 2,500 children

receive screening and assessment.

Rainbows provides support to families

and their children (birth-21) who have

special needs by bringing together

community resources and providing

customized services. Audra is also an

adjunct professor at Butler Community

College, where she teaches Special

Needs in Early Childhood.

children ages birth to kindergarten who have developmental delays. This activity, which

IDEA calls “Child Find,” is provided to families at no cost by partnerships between

school districts, special education cooperatives, providers of birth-3 special education

services and other community partners. You might know this activity as “Count Your

Kid In” or “Screen

for Success.”

Providers of ECE are often the first to identify a developmental delay in a child. For

various reasons, sometimes parents do not spot early signs of a delay in their child’s

development. That is where early childhood educators can really help!

When a teacher recognizes a possible delay in a child, they might recommend to

the child’s parents a need for a developmental screening. Once a family schedules an

appointment at the local Child Find screening, they have the opportunity to learn if their

child is developmentally on target or if a more in-depth assessment is recommended.

Another option for ECE programs is to adopt a process where all children in the

program receive a developmental screening at least once a year to ensure that any

delays are quickly identified. Think of it as a “Well Child Check.” When children

annually are screened, there is a better chance of catching delays in a timely manner,

thus allowing intervention to start as soon as possible. It is also beneficial for parents

to learn if their child demonstrates age-appropriate skills.

Most developmental screenings examine several areas, for example: fine motor/

adaptive, gross motor, communication/language, problem solving, and sometimes social

and emotional. The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3) is a common developmental

screening tool used by Kansas professionals to spot early delays. It takes only about 15-30

minutes and uses questions specific to the child’s age. The ASQ-3 has the added benefit

of being a teaching tool for parents. Should the parents choose to complete the tool with

their child, they can have fun playing with their child while learning what activities are

developmentally appropriate and where their child should be functioning.

Some programs choose to supplement the developmental screening with the Ages

and Stages Questionnaire: Social Emotional (ASQ: SE-2) or the Devereux Early

Childhood Assessment (DECA). These tools ask a variety of questions about the

child’s behavior, sleep, and reactions to situations. These screenings provide an

opportunity for professionals to determine if further assessment might be helpful

to determine the need for mental health services.

Utilizing a valid and reliable screening instrument helps a teacher ensure that

they are objectively looking at a situation and reporting information that will help the

family obtain services. Although many teachers have years of experience, certification

in the field, and a classroom full of children to help them measure a child’s performance

on the developmental milestones, it is best practice to use a screening tool to take away

doubt. The screening tool also offers good data should the teacher need to make a

recommendation for further assessment. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 15


Research Assistant, CARE,

Wichita State University

The Importance of

Developing Self-Regulation

Skills Before Kindergarten

Corina Tillman is a research assistant

at the Center for Applied Research

and Evaluation (CARE), a center within

Wichita State University’s Community

Engagement Institute. At CARE she

helps with early childhood project

research and evaluation as well as

other general evaluation projects for

organizations across the state of Kansas.

Ms. Tillman earned a B.A. in Psychology

and certificates in both Community and

Human Factors Psychology from Wichita

State University.

Anyone who’s ever been through

“the terrible twos,”

“threenagers,” or “fournados”

knows that the years of early

childhood before kindergarten

are a time when children’s ability to selfregulate

their thoughts, emotions, and

behaviors go through a period of rapid

development (Carlson, 2005). Children

who exhibit stronger self-regulatory

skills tend to be more successful when

transitioning to kindergarten. Research

also suggests that stronger self-regulation

in early childhood predicts success in

mathematics, literacy, motivation and

engagement in elementary grades, as well

as better interpersonal skills and academic

achievement in adolescence (Blair & Raver,

2014; McClelland, et. al., 2007). Good selfregulation

contributes to children’s abilities

to pay attention, resist impulses and

distractions, follow through with plans,

and interact with peers. These skills are

vital when children arrive at kindergarten,

and many kindergarten teachers rate them

as more necessary to school readiness than

academic abilities (Heaviside, 1993).

Understanding and controlling emotions

(also referred to as social-emotional

competency) are important parts of selfregulation

that help children to

effectively interact and focus in the

classroom (Denham, 2006). These skills

are beneficial not only for behavioral

and emotional development, but are

also related to and affected by cognitive

development, especially in attentionregulating

skills called executive functions

(Riggs, et.al., 2006).

Executive functions are the skills

involved in deliberate, goal-directed

behaviors and mental processes (Carlson,

Zelazo, & Faja, 2013). They have three

main components: working memory,

inhibitory control, and cognitive

flexibility. These skills can be strengthened

through training, practice, and positive

interactions and experiences, such as

those that take place in high-quality, early

childhood education programs (Blair &

Raver, 2015).


Blair, C., & Raver, C. C. (2014). Closing the achievement gap through modification of neurocognitive and

neuroendocrine function: Results from a cluster randomized controlled trial of an innovative approach to

the education of children in kindergarten. PloS one, 9(11), e112393.

Blair, C., & Raver, C. C. (2015). School readiness and self-regulation: A developmental psychobiological

approach. Annual review of psychology, 66, 711-731.

Carlson, S. M. (2005). Developmentally sensitive measures of executive function in preschool children.

Developmental neuropsychology, 28(2), 595-616.

Carlson, S. M., Moses, L. J., & Breton, C. (2002). How Specific Is The Relation Between Executive Function

And Theory Of Mind? Contributions Of Inhibitory Control And Working Memory. Infant And Child

Development, 11(2), 73-92.

Carlson, S. M., Zelazo, P. D., & Faja, S. (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Developmental Psychology, Vol.

1: Body and Mind.

Denham, S. A. (2006). Social-emotional competence as support for school readiness: What is it and how

do we assess it? Early education and development, 17(1), 57-89

Diamond, A., Barnett, W. S., Thomas, J., & Munro, S. (2007). Preschool Program Improves Cognitive

Control. Science (New York, NY), 318(5855), 1387.

Diamond, A., & Ling, D. S. (2016). Conclusions About Interventions, Programs, And Approaches For

Improving Executive Functions That Appear Justified And Those That, Despite Much Hype, Do Not.

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 18, 34-48.

Heaviside, S. (1993). Public School Kindergarten Teachers’ Views on Children’s Readiness for School.

Contractor Report. Statistical Analysis Report. Fast Response Survey System. US Government Printing

Office, Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-9328.

Hughes, C., White, A., Sharpen, J., & Dunn, J. (2000). Antisocial, Angry, And Unsympathetic: “Hard-To-

Manage” Preschoolers’ Peer Problems And Possible Cognitive Influences. The Journal Of Child Psychology

And Psychiatry And Allied Disciplines, 41(2), 169-179.

Kid Sense Child Development. (2017). Working Memory. Retrieved From Https://Childdevelopment.Com.


McClelland, M. M., Cameron, C. E., Connor, C. M., Farris, C. L., Jewkes, A. M., & Morrison, F. J.

(2007). Links between behavioral regulation and preschoolers’ literacy, vocabulary, and math skills.

Developmental psychology, 43(4), 947.

Riggs, N. R., Jahromi, L. B., Razza, R. P., Dillworth-Bart, J. E., & Mueller, U. (2006). Executive function and

the promotion of social–emotional competence. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27(4),


16 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Working memory allows individuals to briefly hold information in their minds

and work with that information. This is critical for problem-solving, reasoning,

and learning to speak and read (Diamond & Ling, 2016). Children are using

working memory when they follow multi-step directions (such as directions

to a game or three tasks they have been asked to complete) or remember the

topic of a conversation to respond appropriately. Preschool activities that build

these skills include games with multiple rules and asking children to visualize

1and explain their thought processes (Kid Sense Child Development, 2017).

Inhibitory control helps children override impulses and choose how to act

rather than reacting impulsively. This skill helps them pay attention in class

and focus on their work (Diamond, et. al., 2007). Poor inhibitory control is

associated with behavior and attention problems (Hughes, et. al., 2000).

Children can exercise this skill with games such as “Simon Says,” where

they have to resist the urge to move when not instructed. 2Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt thinking and behavior to changing

circumstances or demands. These skills tie into social-emotional skills

by helping children consider other perspectives, and by promoting

cooperation and empathy (Carlson, Moses, & Breton, 2002). Teachers and

parents can support cognitive flexibility by thoughtfully changing up the

rules of familiar games, for example instructing children to do the opposite

3of what “Simon” says.

Together, executive functions and

social-emotional competency work

to keep children on the right track as

they to grow and meet new challenges.

Parents or caring adults who help

cultivate these skills early in a child’s

life provide invaluable guidance that

lays the foundation for success in

kindergarten, grade school, high school,

and whatever life has in store. The lion’s

share of executive function development

happens in early childhood, so it is

Continued from page 14

What can you do to get involved? Here

are some first steps you can take:

Talk with your child’s health care

provider about the importance of

developmental screenings. The American

Academy of Pediatrics recommends

conducting general developmental

screening using evidence-based tools

when children are 9, 18, and 30 months,

or whenever a concern is expressed. If

your child’s health care provider is not

conducting screenings, or is using an

outdated screening tool such as the Denver

Developmental Screening Test, share with

them how important it is to the well-being

of your child that they are following these


Talk with your child’s child care provider.

Because they spend so much time with your

child, child care providers might notice

important to work with children before

they reach kindergarten to maximize

positive progress.

You can find more activities to

improve these skills on http://www.

understood.org and http://www.


executive-function/. More about the

research on school readiness and the

role of social-emotional competency

and executive functions may be found

at https://schoolready.caretools.org. n

concerns about a child’s development.

Using an evidence-based developmental

screening tool enables providers to work

with families to identify developmental

delays, and opens up conversations with

parents about any concerns they might

have. If you are a child care provider and

are not currently conducting developmental

screenings, reach out to us to see how you

can get started.

Get to know the resources in your

community. Families face a complex

array of needs that might affect the

developmental health of their child. Being

a part of the solution and helping connect

families to supports and services that

address each of these needs is essential to

ensuring that we are helping children grow

and families and communities thrive.

For more information visit

screenearlystartstrong.org n

Continued from page 10

and since 1998 has been nationally

accredited by National Association for the

Education of Young Children.

Additionally, since 1997, The Center has

acted as Crawford County’s mechanism for

providing a collaborative setting for early

childhood. The Center has shown the

ability to provide intense and meaningful

direct services to children and families

using the whole-child approach. The

original intent of The Center was to create

a system of improving early childhood

experiences throughout Crawford

County. That vision has grown to include

all of Southeast Kansas and is based

on the concept of replication of service

delivery models that are child/family

focused. Simply put, the infrastructure is

purposely flexible and purposely driven

by one concept — bringing children to

school ready to learn and all that entails,

...the infrastructure is purposely

flexible and purposely driven by one

concept — bringing children to

school ready to learn...

including care and education, family,

health and community.

Our program aligns itself with

partnerships that commit to the mission

of program development founded in

evidence-based interventions that

ensure the most vulnerable children

enter kindergarten ready to learn. The

commitment includes ongoing individual

and family assessments as well as program

evaluation. We use the information

acquired to drive conversations, planning

meetings and decisions regarding program


Our team of public-private partners plan

and organize in an efficient way, focusing

on meeting the needs of our families.

The use of Common Measures gives us a

universal language that effectively drives

our partnerships toward our mission. The

measures identify our program’s strengths

and growth areas, which drives the use of

our resources.

Our experience gives us the chance to

develop strong partnerships. Our mission

drives collaboration between those that

serve vulnerable children and families, with

no single partner as strong as our collective

team. All families deserve organizations

that work together for a common mission

to eliminate barriers to success. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 17

Early Childhood Programs

Improvements That Last

Child advocates agree:

Investing in children early makes a positive

difference in their lives as older children

and as adults. While many researchers and

professionals in early childhood education

have continued to discuss the benefits of

0-5 education, others have questioned

the lasting effects on outcomes and the

worthiness of spending on these programs.

Some simply have difficulty thinking that

programs for toddlers can affect those

children as high schoolers and beyond.

A new study published in Education

Researcher examines this idea about longterm

effects. McCoy and colleagues (2017)

combed the early childhood education

research from 1960-2016 and analyzed the

results of 272 research studies to determine

whether the participants experienced

long-term benefits to the programs under

review. Excitingly, the analysis found

evidence to show that there were, in fact,

long-term, positive effects for the children

who participated in classroom-based early

childhood education.

To ensure that McCoy, et. al., were

comparing apples to apples and to highlight

the outcomes of greatest interest to many

policymakers, the researchers focused on

studies that had results falling into the

following categories of positive outcomes:


Decreases in special education



Decreases in holding children back

a grade


Increases in graduation rates

Focusing on these specific outcomes

allowed the researchers to analyze more

deeply the results of 22 of the studies, which

led to greater statistical confidence in the

conclusions. These conclusions noted that

the effects of early childhood education

delivered in classroom settings benefitted

the children overall with 8% decreases

in special education placements, 8.3%

decreases in students being held back, and

11.4% increases in graduation rates. Figure

1 shows these outcomes where “ECE”

means participants in early childhood

education programs, and “No ECE” means

participants who did not engage in early

childhood education programs.

While the specific rates of decrease/

increase differed based on whether the

researchers controlled for time since the

end of the program, the overall trends

remained the same. This directly refutes

the idea that the benefits produced by

early childhood programs going into

kindergarten do not endure over time.


Research Scientist,

Center for Applied Research

and Evaluation, Wichita State

University’s Community

Engagement Institute

Nicole Freund, Ph.D., is a research scientist

with the Center for Applied Research

and Evaluation (CARE) at Wichita State

University’s Community Engagement

Institute (CEI). She has more than 12 years

of research experience in both academic

and corporate settings. Her research at

CARE is varied and includes evaluations

and projects across a number of domains,

including early childhood, behavioral

health, developmental disability, traffic

safety, and others. Dr. Freund works with

the early childhood team on the Kansas

Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund Early

Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) evaluation.

McCoy’s and the study’s co-authors’

summary and scientific analysis of

research stretching back decades

necessarily does not include some of the

more innovative and scaled-up public,

early childhood programs that have started

since 2017. However, this study does offer

advocates of early childhood education

18 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

more positive evidence that intervening

early in a child’s life has benefits worthy

of investment. The authors note that the

investments in preventing undesirable

outcomes, such as dropping out of high

school, are a comparatively smaller burden

than spending on those undesirable

outcomes themselves. A focus on very

young children as the builders of future

communities and economies makes more

than feel-good sense; it makes strategic

and economic sense, as well. n


McCoy, D. C., Yoshikawa, H., Ziol-Guest, K. M., Duncan, G. J.,

Schindler, H. S., Magnuson, K., Yang, R., Koepp, A., & Shonkoff, J. P.

(2017). Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium-and Long-

Term Educational Outcomes. Educational Researcher, 46(8), 474-487.

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 19

Early Childhood Learning

Makes a Difference

By Annie McKay, President & CEO, Kansas Action for Children

For more than four decades, the leaders

and staff members of Kansas Action for

Children have made the case that early

childhood learning makes a difference.

Thankfully, Kansas leaders are paying

attention, and our kids stand to benefit.

In the 2018 legislative session, Kansas

lawmakers had to tackle complex issues

about child welfare, school readiness,

K-12 achievement, and children’s mental

health. Discussions about early childhood

learning and development and family

engagement have become an important

part of that ongoing work.


We know our state’s early childhood

system matters if we want Kansas kids to

succeed in school and in life. Programs

funded by the Children’s Initiatives Fund,

for instance, catch developmental delays,

provide high-quality child care, diagnose

autism early, and provide access to speech

and language services.

“These are strong examples of a long

list of crucial interventions that

help close learning gaps and

prepare Kansas kids

for kindergarten,”

said John Wilson,

vice president of

advocacy for KAC

and a former state


Positive outcomes

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.

Legislators should know that by

investing in children with adverse

childhood experiences, who live in

poverty and struggle to overcome other

barriers, we can close the school readiness

gap, reduce the number of students

defined as at-risk in K-12, and increase

high school graduation rates.

That’s the message that KAC and our

partners have brought to the Statehouse

— and around the state. And the stakes

couldn’t be higher.

Educational inequities start in infancy

and can be seen as early as 9 months.

Supporting children at this age requires an

investment not only in the child, but also

in their family, caregivers and learning

environments. We continually must ask

the questions about how best to meet

20 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

At-risk children who don’t receive high-quality early education are:

25 PERCENT more likely to drop out

40 PERCENT more likely to be a teen parent

50 PERCENT more likely to be placed in special education

60 PERCENT more likely to not attend college

70 PERCENT MORE likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

the needs of our young children if we are

to realize our goals of achieving the best

possible outcomes for Kansas kids.

While KAC’s mission has persisted

over decades, and will surely evolve in

the future, each person has only one

childhood. We can’t forget that.

The challenge ahead

A great deal is at risk when we fail to

address needs from the start. At-risk

children who don’t receive high-quality

early education are:


25 percent more likely to drop out


40 percent more likely to be a teen



50 percent more likely to be placed in

special education


60 percent more likely to not attend



70 percent more likely to be arrested for

a violent crime.

“There’s no question about it,” Wilson

said. “Early investments provide a great

return on investment, for our children and

our communities.”

While gains have been made through

increasing funding for programs targeting

3- and 4-year-old children and critical

home visitation programs, there is more

work to be done when lawmakers and

a new administration return to the

Statehouse next year.

To build on the momentum to help

young children and their families from

2017 and 2018, among other issues, elected

Kansas leaders must address financial and

geographic barriers to high-quality child

care, reimbursement rates for our families

to leverage child care scholarships, and the

growing workforce challenges within the

child care profession.

While significant, these challenges aren’t


“It’s going to take all of us — providers,

lawmakers, business leaders, advocates,

and community leaders — working

together and speaking up on behalf of

every Kansas child,” Wilson said. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 21

Beautiful Bountiful

Brain-Building Books

By Alice Eberhart-Wright, Child and Family Specialist

Ready! Set! Go! A new school year is just around

the corner. Remember the excitement of the first day

of school? There is something so special about that

time. I’ll bet you remember stories from your own

experiences and all the children

you have known well.

Take a moment to reflect on

what you will do to make this a

wonderful new year. I used to

love to hear my teacher mother

sing the old song, “School Days.”

When she was in her 90s and

hospitalized with a broken hip, she made herself and

us smile by singing about reading and writing and

arithmetic. The following books can help prepare

children to eagerly travel down the track of academia.

A book that practically flew into my lap was Little

Plane Learns to Write. Our 5-year-old great-grandson,

Brayden, loves nothing more than making and flying

planes and helicopters with his Grandpa Dean. He is a

mover and lover of action.

We wondered if he would adapt to a kindergarten

classroom this year. There was talk of holding him

back a year since he was a summer baby, but at the last

minute it seemed right for him to start. He has done

beautifully, even without preschool experience. Part of

the reason is his love for books and the library, where he

regularly went from the time he was a baby. Now it is

time to learn to write.

How do we make that appealing when Brayden’s

first loves are planes and anything having to do with

a ball? Author Stephen Savage used digital techniques

to create a simple story about a plane’s maneuvers that

easily transform into skywriting. I can just see children

tracing the plane’s loop-de-loops and letters with fingers

that mimic writing through the actions of the little red

plane. Good teachers and parenting figures find books

that link children’s interests with literacy.

There is grumbling among many of us from other

generations about young adults’ seeming lack of a

work ethic, resulting in businesses that have trouble

depending on their employees to, first of all, show up

at the appointed time and then to do things right. We

wonder if children grew up thinking that they should

have whatever they wanted when they wanted it,

without needing to do anything that was not fun. So …

I was delighted to find Earn It! A Moneybunny Book, by

Cinders McLeod with Design by Marikka Tamura.

Bun, a darling, spoiled little bunny, wants to be

rich and famous and thinks this can

happen just because she knows what she

wants. Her mother works patiently with her to

understand the steps to mastery, even if it is not

a guarantee to becoming rich and famous. She

does this through a delightful set of questions

and gentle conversation, giving her ways to earn

carrots, helping her think through the need for

a good adult guide, not letting her just rest on

her laurels, and helping her understand that

good feelings might be the most important

reward when you see the results of your hard

work. Few words, charming illustrations, and

an invitation to the reader to stop frequently

for feedback from the listeners make this book

helpful for verbal children from ages 3 through

kindergarten. It’s a great beginning book for

establishing work ethics in little human beings.

Finally, I am back to Mo Willems books. I

reviewed one several years ago and continue to be

amazed at this author’s ability to delight everyone

and handle important concepts. Recognizing and

reflecting on thoughts and feelings can make a

big difference in relationships. Willems was key

to Sesame Street. He makes me think of Mr.

Rogers the way he opens up important issues for

young children and their caregivers. Developing

empathy, practicing kindness, and working

on impulsiveness helps to build and repair

relationships in many of the Mo Willems books.

Complex issues are made simple with delightful

characters, such as Elephant and Piggie.

These board books are fun to read and invite

toddlers to point to main characters and trace

movement with fingers. Great for beginning

readers and an invitation to young artists to

make their own stories.

Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, in

Topeka, will have a special Mo Willems Center

for about three months, beginning in September.

At a time when many centers are being put on a

wait list, it is the only children’s discovery center in

the Midwest to host this for adults and children. I

could probably recommend all of Willems’ books,

so I invite you to go to your library and explore. The

ones I chose today are The Thank You Book, My New

Friend Is So Fun!, and the board book Who Flies, Cat

the Cat? As you read them, think of what issues and

developmental stages each one addresses. Practice your

most dramatic reading strategies and enjoy!

22 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Earn a teaching license

Change your life

and the lives of children

Our online and on-campus bachelor’s and master’s programs in Early

Childhood Education B-K Unified (early childhood education/early childhood

special education) uniquely prepares qualified teachers for the classroom.

• Above-average starting salary in a high-demand field

• Utilize loan deferments and scholarship programs

• K-State students consistently earn a 99

percent pass rate on licensure exams

• No relocation required

• Enjoy summer breaks

Always on. Always there.

VISIT global.k-state.edu/early-childhood

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 23




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