School districts will be able to draw down new funding for Pre-K as early as 2018/19. We are having conversations with DESE to determine how they will inform their school districts on when their average daily attendance numbers can be used to draw down new pre-K dollars. We are also trying to determine whether the funding will be susceptible to a phase-in next year.
Aligned supports the continuation of Pre-K funding in the funding formula and its immediate full implementation.
Quality Rating and Improvement Systems are active in 43 states. QRIS provide a framework for a comprehensive early childhood system by: measuring and setting benchmarks for quality; developing infrastructures to provide targeted and coordinated quality improvement supports to programs; and providing families with useful information to help them make informed child care choices. In 2016, the Missouri Legislature passed SB 638 lifting a statutory prohibition on quality ratings for early childhood education providers across the state and created a time-limited (three year), voluntary pilot program open to center based, home based and exempt religious providers. ECE agencies were given three years to collaborate and establish an early learning quality assurance report. Two years have passed with no funding to establish or implementation the early learning quality assurance report pilot program. The program was extended in 2018. Aligned supports the planning, funding and implementation of the pilot.
Recommendation: Aligned supports efforts to extend and fund the development and implementation of an Early Childhood Program Quality Assurance Report pilot program.
During the 2014 legislative session the Missouri General Assembly passed HB 1689 which provides pre-Kindergarten state funding to districts and charters through the state finance formula for public education. The Pre-K funding is for children ages 3 and 4 eligible for free/reduced lunch. Funding is capped at 4% of the districts’ and charters’ total number of pupils who are eligible for free/reduced lunch. Last year the Missouri General Assembly passed provided funding for fully funding the foundation formula allowing for all school districts to access Pre-K funding starting in 2017. Concerns have been raised by many community-based providers across the state that expansion of universal Pre-K without provisions allowing school districts and charters to contract with community based providers will force many providers to close their doors. Since many of these providers rely on their preschool services to help offset the higher cost to provide infant and toddler care there is a concern this will only worsen the current shortage of infant toddler care in many communities across the state.
Recommendation: Aligned supports legislation that will allow public school districts and charter schools to contract with community-based child care providers for Pre-K services funded through the foundation formula.
The Kansas Endowment for Youth Fund (KEY) and Children’s Initiatives Fund (CIF) were created by the Legislature in 1999 and serve as the cornerstone of funding for the Kansas early care and education system. The KEY Fund is designed to serve as an endowment for investments in early education, and is funded by annual payments from the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement. Money flows from the KEY fund into the CIF, and from there is distributed to early childhood programs. This infrastructure has created a successful system that the Kansas Legislature’s own efficiency audit described as a gold standard for government accountability. Unfortunately, over $228 million has been swept from the KEY Fund since 1999 to plug revenue shortfalls and there have been efforts to eliminate the CIF and move those dollars into the State General Fund. Maintaining the state’s investment in the CIF and insuring that all future KEY funds are invested in the CIF will ensure that today’s children will be equipped to lead Kansas toward a more prosperous future.
Recommendation: Aligned supports efforts to protect existing funding for the CIF and KEY funds and work to secure future funding to protect these critical investments in early childhood programs across Kansas.
In 2017, the Kansas legislature passed a new public-school finance formula which included full-day Kindergarten and $2M in funding for At-Risk Pre-K. At-Risk Pre-K programs are based upon research and evidence based practice recognizing the correlation between participation in high quality early learning environments and improved child outcomes essential for later school success. This vital program serves four-year-old children with disabilities and children with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in an environment with typically developing peers whenever possible due to the preponderance of research documenting the positive outcomes for both children with disabilities as well as for children without disabilities. Partners in Quality supports efforts to expand voluntary Pre-K funding in the Kansas public school foundation formula to reach more Kansas children.
Recommendation: Aligned will lead the efforts to expand funding for At-Risk Pre-K programs in the Kansas public school funding formula.
Kansas currently has a dedicated pool of funds to incent K-12 public schools to graduate students with Industry Recognized Credentials (IRCs). The fund has been depleted in recent years due to lack of utilization. Increasing the funding per IRC and promoting this program should provide incentives for K-12 buildings to implement more Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs that are aligned with industry needs and IRCs. In addition, equitable access to dual credit courses is important to ensure that high school students can continue a trajectory that leads to a post secondary certificate or degree.
Recommendation: Aligned will lead the discussion for the expansion and promotion of both dual credit and IRC incentives for K-12 public schools in Kansas.