Kansas issues grants of $10.2 million to expand child care in Lawrence, Hays and Emporia

Lack of quality daycare across state an impediment to family quality of life

By: - November 8, 2023 3:01 pm

Kansas Children's Cabinet and Trust Fund executive director Melissa Rooker, front left, and Gov. Laura Kelly said $10.2 million in federal funding would be shared by Lawrence, Emporia and Hays to create a total of 310 more child care slots. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly said the state committed $10.2 million to build or renovate community multi-purpose facilities in Lawrence, Hays and Emporia to add at least 310 licensed child care slots.

The governor and the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund said Wednesday grants tied to the Capital Projects Fund Accelerator would provide space with child care services, access to high-speed internet as well as work, education and health care services. Kansas has a shortage of child care providers and the imbalance between supply and demand made it challenging to foster economic growth and improve quality of life in rural and urban areas.

“Kansas parents need safe, affordable child care so they can join the workforce without worrying how they’ll make ends meet,” Kelly said. “That’s why we’re investing in these community centers.”

The state said it would send $4.9 million to Community Children’s Center in Lawrence for a 24/7 child care facility with drop-in and occasional care options with tuition set on a sliding scale. The facility would provide 69 slots for children.

In Hays, Grove Community Center was to receive $3.5 million for a center with a licensed capacity for 77 children. It would be incorporated with senior center services. Little Lyons of Emporia would use $1.75 million to provide 167 slots for children and deliver mental health services, vocational workships and training activities.

Melissa Rooker, executive director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, said the grants drew upon federal appropriations to Kansas in the American Rescue Plan Act. The U.S. Department of Treasury allocated $40 million to Kansas for capital projects in September.

She said applicants for grant funding included businesses, local economic development groups, nonprofit organizations, philanthropic leaders and providers of child care.

“We appreciate our partners, both at the community level at U.S. Treasury, for joining us as we seek to address the multi-faceted challenges facing families with young children,” Rooker said.

The window for responding to request for proposals for the second round of child care grants would remain open until Dec. 18. Approximately $28 million has yet to be committed for community facilities in Kansas.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International.