More than half of childcare providers and nearly half of pre-school and kindergarten teachers reside in families that utilize public assistance.
Average annual cost of center-based care
Nationally, many providers and advocates feel childcare has not received the level of investment and infrastructure-building necessary to make it a public good (in comparison to how K-12 education is viewed as a public good). Kansas is no different. In the absence of a coordinated, comprehensive public approach to childcare systems, communities are left to develop public-private partnerships to address issues of equitable access and quality for families, adequate training, preparation, and compensation for childcare providers.
The partnership developed between Child Care Aware® of Kansas and the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce sought to engage a broad spectrum of community stakeholders in identifying community childcare needs and local solutions. The plan included a three-part approach to increase wages for local childcare providers, promote retention by providing longevity bonuses, and provide technical support to increase overall quality.
Implementation of this plan has been impacted by COVID-19, however, as the efforts of many of the community partners were diverted to emergency response. The community groups are currently re-engaging to reassess the plan – both in terms of feasibility and impact – to accommodate landscape changes resulting from the pandemic.
The group of public and private partners worked collaboratively, utilizing a “strategic doing” process, to identify the community’s plan to address the childcare issue and initiate implementation. Partners include:
Salina Area Chamber of Commerce
Child Care Aware® of Kansas
Child Advocacy and Parenting Services
The Salina Area United Way
The City of Salina
Unified School District 305
Heartland Early Education
Salina Child Care Association
Salina Family YMCA
Kansas Wesleyan University
Is This Model Repeatable?
Child Care Aware® of Kansas is engaged in other, similar community planning efforts across western Kansas. While the strategies of each community plan may differ, they are able to provide continued content and systems expertise while providing support for planning to ensure both feasibility and impact are integrated into desired solutions.