Addressing the Child Care Crisis

TFC Receives $2M to Address Child Care Crisis in Wyandotte County

TFC Receives $2M to Address Child Care Crisis in Wyandotte County

Kansas City, Kansas – The Family Conservancy (TFC) was awarded $2 million in federal funds to address the child care crisis in Wyandotte County, Kansas – where there is currently only capacity to meet 27 percent of the demand for care.

TFC president and CEO, Paula Neth explained the crisis, “At the heart of the issue is the simple fact that the child care funding model is flawed. Most parents can’t afford to pay what it costs to provide high-quality early care and education, and yet providers are operating at razor-thin margins. This means difficult choices for both parents and providers. While child care challenges exist across the Kansas City metro and the nation, they are especially apparent in under-resourced communities like Wyandotte County.”

The funding, to support pandemic relief, will allow TFC to expand their Start Young program which bridges many of the shortcomings in the child care system. Since 2018, the program has helped bring 346 new child care spaces to Wyandotte County, and sustained them through scholarships, material/furnishing grants, and salary supplements and education scholarships for teachers. Start Young also focuses on improving the quality of existing programs by providing free professional development and coaching to teachers and administrators.

TFC will continue to address some of the most difficult child care-related challenges facing families in Wyandotte County — the affordability and availability of care, the retention of teachers, and the quality of programming. Initiatives supported by this new funding will include*:

  • Bonuses for teachers and staff working at participating child care sites, to address workforce retention issues. These $500 bonuses will be provided to approximately 175 teachers, twice per year.
  • Child care scholarships will allow 70 children, annually, to access quality child care in Wyandotte County. Combined with other funding sources, TFC aims to provide the families of 200 children with supplemental scholarships, annually. This funding will be awarded with the support of TFC’s resource navigators, who assist families in applying for the state subsidy, which is often a burdensome, time-consuming process.
  • Sustainability grants for up to 15 child care centers and 15 family child care home providers. This funding will allow providers to cover rising costs of operating child care, while keeping rates affordable.
  • Facility improvement grants will support construction costs to improve learning environments and ensure compliance with local code requirements. Grant funding will also provide developmentally appropriate materials, such as blocks, puzzles, and dramatic play materials for children. TFC will also provide consultation to identify their most pressing needs.

These new investments will address many of the financial needs providers’ budgets rarely allow, such as workforce compensation, facility enhancement and upkeep, and quality improvements.

“This is the largest nonprofit award of ARPA funding in Wyandotte County. I think it says a lot about the growing acknowledgement of early care and education as a critical piece of our community’s infrastructure. It’s not just about meeting the immediate workforce needs, but preparing the next generation by taking advantage of the most important period of human development.” Neth commented.

*This is not a complete list of initiatives funded by TFC’s ARPA grant; a full scope of work is available upon request.