The State of Child Care in Kansas

Quality child care benefits everyone living and working in Kansas. Just like we invest in roads, utilities, and broadband to fuel our economy and provide a good quality of life for Kansas residents, we must also invest in a more effective early care and education system for our state.

In the short term, child care enables parents and guardians to pursue work, education, and other aspirations in order to support their families economically and live fulfilling lives. When everyone in the state has access to quality, consistent child care, employers can attract and retain a productive and loyal workforce.

In the long term, implementing new child care solutions will ensure that Kansas children grow up in environments that shape their healthy development and lay the foundation for future learning, well-being, and success throughout their lives. 

Classroom of kindergarten interior design

The research is clear: Quality, accessible, affordable child care contributes to the prosperity of Kansas today and tomorrow.

Child Care and the Economy

Every day, our state pays for the lack of quality child care for Kansas kids. The steepest costs, often overlooked, adversely impact the state’s long-term economic success. Without quality early care and education, many children won’t develop the strong social-emotional foundation that facilitates lifelong learning, well-being, and success. Children and adults can struggle to live healthy lives, resulting in:

  • An overburdened school system serving students who are unprepared to learn.
  • A sluggish economy from lost productivity and underemployment.
  • Ongoing health and social issues that stretch government budgets.

Building a quality early care and education system is more cost-effective than trying to address and pay for the challenges caused by our current patchwork system.

Fortunately, thanks to innovative pilot projects and long-term academic studies, we know what quality early care and education looks like. Expanding these opportunities across the state can drive our economy in the short term by enabling more parents to seek employment and work without disruption — improving families’ financial stability, reducing turnover, and increasing productivity for Kansas businesses, as well as attracting and retaining more workers for our communities. 

By listening to families explain their unique needs, expanding effective programs, and collaborating across communities and industries to design new solutions, we can build a successful system that sets up our state — and our children — for a healthy and productive future.

Systemic Challenges

For more than a century, Kansas has worked to build an exemplary K-12 education system that provides foundational learning and wraparound support for all children and their families. However, we don’t have a comparable system for children during their most critical period of development — from birth to age 5. Instead, families with young children face multiple challenges when looking for quality, affordable child care that meets their needs, including:

  • A cobbled-together patchwork of family, friends, and for-profit, nonprofit, and public providers without consistent standards or resources.
  • Child care deserts in many rural areas, which lack sufficient openings for the number of children who live there.
  • Options that are too expensive for middle- and low-income families.
  • Limited options for parents with nontraditional work schedules or for children with special needs.
Making child care work for Kansas Stressed Child Care Provider
Read More About Child Care Challenges & Solutions

Kansas Child magazine is intended to provide a forum for the discussion of child care and early education issues and ideas.