Policy Resource

A History of Creative Financing Puts Kansas on the Map

Feb 9, 2016

Since 1998, Kansas has used creative state financing approaches to supplement federal funding for the Early Head Start (EHS) program.

Former Governor Bill Graves first approved the transfer of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant funds to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to establish the state-funded EHS program. In subsequent years, policymakers utilized state general revenue, Children’s Initiative Funds from tobacco settlement dollars, and federal CCDBG quality set-aside funding to serve children birth to 4 years old and pregnant women.

This history of innovation set a useful precedent when the state launched an effort to create the Kansas Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) to (a) support high-quality, evidence-based child development services for at-risk infants, toddlers, and their families and (b) expand and enhance preschool opportunities for 3- and 4-year-olds. The ECBG and Smart Start Kansas programs were combined in 2013 and received a total of $18.1 million in dedicated funding from the Children’s Initiative Fund. At least 30% of the ECBG funding must be spent on programs for at-risk infants and toddlers. Grantees are required to raise a 10% cash match. New tobacco settlement payments are assigned to the Children’s Initiative Fund, which supports the ECBG as well as other initiatives.

In Fiscal Year 2015, $17.78 million was awarded through the ECBG in the form of 25 grants to school districts, Head Start and Early Head Start providers, child care centers, and community-based programs that provide evidence-based programming to at-risk children. Grantees expect to serve more than 4,500 children birth to 3 years old with these funds. In February 2015, Kansas transferred $12 million from the Kansas Endowment for Youth (KEY) Fund to address the gap between revenue and the approved FY2015 budget. The KEY Fund is the endowment that makes transfers each year to the Children’s Initiative Fund. Although this will have no impact on current ECBG grantees, it could result in less money being available in the future.

This description of Kansas work is highlighted in ZERO TO THREE’s publication A Place to Get Started: Innovation in Infant and Toddler State Policies. Read the full brief at http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy.

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