Start Young three-year pilot proves successful; year four funding secured from Kansas Children’s Cabinet
TFC launched the Start Young initiative nearly three years ago, on July 1, 2018. Start Young is a public-private collaborative that is improving the child care sector in Wyandotte County, increasing access to high-quality, full-day, full-year child care for working families.
“When the Kansas Children’s Cabinet announced the $3M in matching funding [in 2018], TFC was ready for this opportunity. We rallied our community partners and child care providers to formalize our collective vision for Wyandotte County families. The opportunity outlined in the Communities Aligned in Early Development and Education (CAEDE) RFP presented a meaningful opportunity to grow access to high-quality, full-day, full-year child care, to meet the unique needs and budgets of the community,” says TFC President & CEO, Paula Neth.
TFC’s community partners: Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), United Way of Greater Kansas City, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, and Child Care Aware of Kansas; rose to the challenge with TFC to build a comprehensive program to increase access and affordability of high-quality early education. For the pilot period, Start Young worked with 16 area child care providers, who also put in endless hours of work and commitment to these families.
Neth shares, “the first three years reinforced a lot for us but also taught us many lessons as we worked closely with child care providers and families.” While the global pandemic introduced challenges that could not have been planned for, Neth states, “it also illustrated just how critical this work is. While not all crises could have been averted, the support Start Young had already established for our community proved pivotal.”
TFC was pleased to learn this opportunity was once again open to continue to fund Start Young. The public-private partnership has increased the capacity of quality child care spaces for 293 children in Wyandotte County and has retained an average of 92% of teachers who have achieved some level of early children education. This program year will boast more support of family child care, which is such an important option for families to have, to help meet specific needs – such as cultural or language preferences, or may have hours to accommodate those with non-traditional work hours.
Funding from the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and private support will be utilized to serve 775 children from birth to age 5; 235 parents, through direct services; and 190 early education staff in Wyandotte County this program year. By empowering these 1,200 individuals and families, Start Young will continue to address the accessibility and quality of child care in our Wyandotte County community through capacity building, systems support, and professional development for teachers.