Posted January 6, 2020
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.
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.
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.