The KELC grant is completed as of 12/31/12. Thanks!
In 2008, leaders from six statewide early learning organizations who provide evidence-based, high-quality early learning services to at-risk children and families began meeting to discover ways to better meet the needs of Kansas infants, toddlers, and pre-school children, and their families.
Leaders envisioned Kansas communities where….
· early care and intervention is a priority
· parents easily find information and services they want and need for their children
· children and families receive services and supports that prepare them to succeed
· professionals work together to develop and implement an effective early childhood system finding innovative solutions to community challenges
· efficient use of resources leads to better resourced professionals and more children served
· early learning partners believe collaboration benefits children and families, and develops
community resilience in the face of constant change.
The six organizations submitted a grant proposal to the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund for expansion and enhancement of services to children birth to three years old in 12 Kansas counties. Partners proposed expansion of high-quality, evidence-based services for at-risk children and families in un-served or under-served areas of the state, including: personal home visits, screening, mental health consultation, quality initiatives, and infant and toddler child care. The proposal also included collaboration assistance to improve service delivery among local partners, share best practices, and replicate successful community service models, for example, centralized intake. The Kansas Early Learning Collaborative (KELC) proposal was accepted by the Children’s Cabinet and funded for the first time in 2009, with options to renew in 2010-2011.
In 2009 twelve county teams received funds to expand services through the six partner programs serving 9327 children. A team leader was chosen by each county to facilitate the group’s work and each county formed a collaborative team made up of the six organizations and other early learning and community partners, ie health, schools, library, etc. While some counties had a history of working together, others had never met, and some began to overcome years of conflict. Through regular meetings, newly developing and strengthened relationships, professionals gained a better understanding of the services available for children and families enabling them to better represent the whole system in their interactions with parents. Each county developed and executed a work plan with strategies and tactics designed to support local needs and opportunities.
While counties were building teams at the local level, the state leaders of the six organizations formed a KELC Leadership Team to provide overall leadership to the KELC grant. Just as the counties met regularly, so did the Leadership Team, expanding the vision and communication at the state level. Through these growing relationships, the Leadership Team agreed to make previously proprietary trainings available to all partners and divided responsibilities among them for financial management, human resources, and evaluation. Under the direction of an external evaluation partner, a data system was designed to capture and report on three goals: increase access to services, increase quality of services, and improve collaboration.
Collaboration Makes a Difference
The KELC Grant was renewed by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet in 2010. Through ongoing discussions at the state and county level, the
Leadership Team clarified the vision for KELC adopting a vision statement: Kansans changing the way we work together to change the first five years. County teams were encouraged to progress from networking to cooperation, to coordination, and finally collaboration; changing the way the early learning system works to benefit children and families. Growing relationships and trust among partners contributed to improved identification and resolution of service delivery issues, ability to deal with complex family situations, improved decision making, communication, conflict resolution, and innovation. Teams noticed points of impact that evolved where gaps or needs in the community intersected strengths or skills of the team. These natural points of collaborative impact energized teams to expand their work together, for example: screening in child care centers, home visitor collaboration, improving awareness, sharing resources (staff, space, etc.). Mental health participation was viewed as having broad impact, improving the knowledge of infant and early childhood mental health across all partners. Teams have also strengthened partnerships with business and other community partners.
While many of the benefits of collaboration became clearer so did the challenges. Collaboration is time consuming and professionals struggled to prioritize collaboration especially as budget cuts continued to increase workload. The complexity of the collaborative structure within larger counties made it difficult to determine the impact given a wide variety of influences (ie. partner structure, funding available, partnership history etc.) within the county. Counties identified a need for additional resources to coordinate collaborative work.
In 2010, 13,996 children and their families received high-quality early learning services, professional development opportunities and quality initiatives expanded, and collaboration among early learning and community partners improved.
The Kansas Children’s Cabinet renewed the KELC grant in 2011 with a 9% budget reduction. 2011 budget priorities included: direct services for 9626 children and county and statewide collaborative
efforts, including $3,000 for county teams to execute work plan goals and sustain the gains made through collaboration. Counties refined work plans building on the strengths or needs of their county, for example: screening in child care, implementing common intake and release forms, and increasing awareness of early learning services among key partners, ie. physicians. A fourth goal was added in 2011: Improve outcomes for children and families. A parent satisfaction survey found 97.7% of parents were satisfied with the early learning services they received. An important addition to evaluation efforts in 2011 included collection of data on child and family demographics and outcomes in three counties for sampling and analysis. Data showed a significant increase in the percent of children demonstrating progress in intellectual development and social-emotional indicators across time.
The Leadership Team continued to identify and share research and best practices practiced across the state and across the country. Members of Strive in Cincinnati spoke to KELC partners about the importance of collective impact in addressing complex community issues, “...large scale social hange comes from better cross-sector coordination rather than from the isolated intervention of individual organizations.”
In preparation for 2012, the KELC Leadership Team identified key next steps to advance the work based on results, feedback, research, and lessons learned:
—increased partner participation across
counties, ie. all six partners (where available) in each county
—consistent focus on improvement of the
essential elements of effective early
learning systems: direct services provided to children and families, coordinated intake and
referral, professional development, literacy
development, transitions, and community
—continued progress in measurement of child and family outcomes including use of the Protective Factors Survey
The KELC grant was renewed by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet for one year in 2012 with a goal of serving 7996 children ages birth to five and increasing partner participation in 9 of the 12 counties. In 2012 evaluation will be led by Dr. Chantelle Dowsett, Research Associate with The University of Kansas, Center for Research Methods and Data Analysis.
In 2012, county teams will build on strengthened relationships among early learning and community partners which have resulted in increased awareness, improved service delivery through updated tools and processes, collaborative grant applications, and shared resources and training.
The KELC Leadership Team and local teams continue to seek additional funding to address the need to support the coordinator of the team and resource collaborative work projects.
Updated for 2012
Vision: families are strong and children succeed in school and life
Mission: promote community-based early
learning systems which collectively benefit
children and families