Concordia School District Provides Child Care Through Community Collaboration
Originally published in the Winter 2022 Issue of Kansas Child Magazine.
Early childhood experiences are the foundation for a student’s future success. This belief has always been a focus for USD 333, Concordia Public Schools. We are guided by the Kansas Can Vision, developed by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) and the Kansas State Board of Education: “Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.”
One of the five outcomes identified to help move Kansas toward this vision is kindergarten readiness. Accordingly, USD 333 has worked to further investigate the early childhood needs of our district and community, as well as how we might extend our current preschool offerings to help meet the needs of our community.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic put the effort on pause, the district was working on an early childhood education model that included local early childhood providers. When we realized the need for child care had become critical during the pandemic, we began working with KDHE licensing, local child care supervisors, CloudCorp (Cloud County Economic Development), K-State Extension and Research, community professionals, and surrounding school districts to identify ways to fill the immediate child care void and provide for future needs. We quickly realized that we could start one group day care home, but providing care for more children would take greater planning and collaboration.
Thanks to a partnership with several different organizations in North Central Kansas, we have been able to expand early care and education in the district. USD 333 committed to providing the facilities, access to our nutrition program, and the hiring and training of staff, as well as to covering salaries and benefits. Cloud County Economic Development assisted in helping us contact and complete grants from different organizations. We were fortunate to receive grant funding from Dane Hansen and Child Care Aware® of Kansas.
Through this collaborative effort, we are now operating a fully licensed group day care home for children from birth through age 5, with two highly qualified providers on staff. USD 333 is committed to continued collaboration and partnership to provide quality early childhood offerings to the community of Concordia.
Our long-term goals include growing and developing partnerships with local and regional entities to address child care and early childhood needs. One such goal is to prepare future providers and educators by offering work-study and career pathway opportunities for our high school and college students.
Together, we can ensure that all children, from birth through age 18, receive a quality education in our community.