As first act of second term, Kelly coins new early childhood task force

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signs the first executive order of her second term on Jan. 10, 2023.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signs the first executive order of her second term on Jan. 10, 2023.(Office of the Kansas Governor)
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 1:29 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - As the first act of her second term, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has coined a new early childhood task force to focus on gaps in childcare.

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says she signed the first executive order of her second term. She said Executive Order 23-01 which establishes the Early Childhood Transition Task Force to review the state’s early childhood programs. It will also develop a roadmap for a new state, cabinet-level agency focused on the support and success of young Kansans.

Yesterday, I laid out a vision for my next four years, to make Kansas the best place in America to raise a family. Today we are taking a significant step forward in pursuit of that goal,” Gov. Kelly said. “Giving Kansas kids the strongest start to life is the best possible investment we can make. This task force will determine how to make that investment most effectively.”

Kelly noted that the task force will examine the current system and how it is financed - focused on gaps, inefficiencies and redundancies. It will also host a series of stakeholder engagement opportunities and draft a transition plan for the new agency.

“The work of this new task force represents a commitment to the transformational change needed to create an early childhood care and education system that works for all Kansas families,” Melissa Rooker, executive director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, said. “The pandemic revealed the challenges in our current system, and we are excited to go to work developing an action plan to address barriers, gaps, and opportunities to serve our youngest Kansans more effectively.”

The Governor indicated that the task force will build on her Administration’s first-term efforts around early childhood - to include an investment of more than $270 million to support childcare providers and increase access to reliable, affordable child care.

“I applaud the Governor for having the vision to create this task force,” Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Janet Stanek said. “I look forward to collaborating with policy experts and others to align on early childhood policy development within a future agency that will bring greater efficiencies and eliminate structural barriers for families, communities, and businesses.”

Kelly said the task force will include members from the state government, the private sector, philanthropic organizations, early childhood service providers and advocacy organizations. She said she will also invite members of the Kansas House and Senate to member the task force.

“Governor Kelly is a champion for Kansas children who understands that high-quality early learning opportunities and family support programs are among the best investments we can make as a state,” John Wilson, President of Kansas Action for Children, said. “The best policies and proposals are those that have been shaped by diverse stakeholders, which is why I am excited for the work of this task force. It will build upon the strong, collaborative work that’s been happening across state agencies to improve the health and well-being of children and families.”

To read the complete text of the executive order, click HERE.