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Governor Laura Kelly Announces Childcare Resources for Kansans and Providers

Governor Laura Kelly today announced that, in an effort to improve access to quality, affordable childcare, more Kansas families will now be eligible to take advantage of the Hero Relief Child Care Assistance Program.

First implemented at the beginning of the pandemic to assist essential workers with the costs of childcare, this new round of assistance allows all Kansas workers to take advantage of expanded financial eligibility guidelines.

“Kansas has experienced a record amount of economic activity this year. In order to support our growing economy, Kansans in the workforce need reliable access to quality childcare,” Governor Kelly said. “Expanding the Hero Relief Program helps businesses and parents, and ensures children, our most precious resource, have opportunities to develop in nurturing environments.”

Under the new guidelines, any Kansas worker who makes 250% or less of the federal poverty level is now eligible for childcare assistance. The expansion also includes waiving the family share deduction for essential workers and reducing the deduction for all others. Families also will see an expanded eligibility period from six to 12 months.

The income eligibility chart provides monthly income guidelines for the program:

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This program is available to families who need child care for employment as long as the adults in the household are employed an average of 20 hours a week. Some education or training activities also may be supported under the traditional Child Care Assistance Program.

“I am pleased that more families can now take advantage of the Hero Relief Program,” Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard said. “Parents have faced additional challenges because of the pandemic, and it was important to me that we provide meaningful assistance to families.”

For more information and for instructions on how to apply, visit www.KSHeroRelief.com.

Governor Kelly also announced today that DCF, in partnership with Child Care Aware of Kansas, is launching the Child Care Sustainability Grant program to aid child care providers in meeting the costs of operating their business. Nearly $50 million will be distributed through the program, with grant awards ranging from $5,000 for family child care programs to $60,000 for large centers.

This support comes at a critical time for Kansas providers. Many have struggled to stay afloat amid increased costs to provide child care in line with CDC COVID-19 mitigation guidelines and, in many cases, experienced a decrease in revenue due to illness. This funding is intended to give them the assistance needed to continue providing the best quality care for the children in their programs.

“At Child Care Aware of Kansas, we take pride in our ability to support child care providers and are very excited to see this funding become available,” Kelly Davydov, Executive Director, said. “Child care is essential for a thriving Kansas economy. When child care providers operate a safe, happy, nurturing environment, families can feel at peace knowing that their child is in good hands.”

“This grant program is the perfect example of how we can use federal relief dollars to support small businesses,” Governor Kelly said. “I want to thank Child Care Aware of Kansas for partnering in continued efforts to boost access to child care and strengthen our economy.”

The Child Care Sustainability grant application will be available via the Child Care Aware of Kansas website starting July 1, and must be received by July 30, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. All child care facilities that are licensed by and in good standing with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are eligible to apply. Funds may be used for any normal operational expenses, additional expenses the child care program has due to meeting CDC guidance for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and other activities necessary to maintain or resume the operation of programs.

For more information about the Child Care Sustainability Grants, visit https://ks.childcareaware.org.

Funding for these programs comes from federal relief dollars included in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan.


Apply for the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program!

Are you a school or library looking to help Kansans stay connected?

Apply to the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program between June 29, 2021 and August 13, 2021. Applications are being processed on a first come, first served basis, so plan to apply as soon as possible.

The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program is administered by Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC) with oversight from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

 How it Works

The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program will reimburse schools and libraries for the reasonable costs of eligible equipment and broadband connections used to help students, staff, and patrons who otherwise lack access to be able to engage in remote learning.

Who’s Eligible

Schools and libraries –including primary and secondary schools –that provided off-site broadband service and connected devices to students, staff, and patrons who would otherwise lack access during the COVID-19 health emergency.

What’s Covered

The fund will reimburse reasonable costs of eligible equipment such as Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, devices that combine a modem and router, connected devices, and eligible broadband connections.

Get Ready to Apply

To participate, schools and libraries must have an active FCC Registration Number. Schools, libraries, and service providers who agree to invoice on behalf of applicants must also have a SAM.gov registration to be able to receive program support.

Schools and libraries that have a SAM.gov registration or FCC Registration Number do not need to register again.

Questions?

If you have any questions, please reach register with the USAC or submit an inquiry form request to the Office of Recovery.

Emergency Connectivity Fund Program Flyer

A flyer advertising the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company.


 

June 21st is Child Tax Credit Awareness Day!

From the Administration for Children & Families

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration celebrates Child Tax Credit Awareness Day. President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act included historic investments to support low- and middle-income parents who have long faced increasing financial strain, worsened by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Child Tax Credit Awareness Day is meant to ensure that parents know about the ARP Act’s historic expansion of the child tax credit (CTC) and how it will benefit their families.

 The CTC Provides Major Tax Relief for Nearly All Working Families

  • All working families will get the full credit if they make up to $150,000 for a couple or $112,500 for a family with a single parent (also called head of household).
  • The CTC has been expanded to $3,000 per child ages 6–17 years and $3,600 per child younger than age 6.
  • Roughly 39 million households—covering 65 million children (nearly 90 percent of children in the United States)—will automatically receive the new CTC.
  • Starting on July 15th and continuing through the rest of the calendar year, payments of $250 per child between ages 6–17 or $300 per child younger than age 6 will be made monthly (via direct deposit for 80 percent of families and through the mail for the others).
  • The Internal Revenue Service has launched a simplified online tool that will allow families not automatically enrolled in the program to receive the CTC. For more information, visit ChildTaxCredit.gov.

President Biden’s American Families Plan Calls for Extending the CTC for Years and Years

The new CTC enacted in the ARP Act is only available for 2021. President Biden strongly believes that we should extend the new CTC for years to come, and he proposes to do that in his American Families Plan.

Easy Signup for Low-Income Families To Cut Child Poverty in Half

Low-income families with children are eligible for this crucial tax relief, including those who have not made enough money to be required to file taxes. If a couple makes less than $24,800, a head of household makes less than $18,650, or a single filer makes less than $12,400, and they have not filed their taxes, a simple, easy tool is available to sign up for the CTC. Learn more at ChildTaxCredit.gov.

Help Us Spread the Word

Use June 21st as the occasion to host events, make calls, post on social media to elevate the CTC, or announce future efforts to promote awareness and signups for the CTC. Here are some ways to engage on that day and in the following weeks and months:

  • Host or join events or Zoom calls in your district at family centers, houses of worship, community centers, and other places that families visit and pitch the events or calls to local media.
  • Write and/or place an op-ed about the importance of the CTC in your regional or local media outlet.
  • Participate in a webinar with faith and community leaders to tell them about the CTC and the ways that they can ensure access to the CTC for members of their congregations and communities.
  • Partner with school districts, education leaders, and child care centers to share information with parents.
  • Raise awareness via social media (e.g., write a post, compose a tweet, partner with an advocacy organization for an Instagram Live event).
  • Join local and national broadcasts to discuss the impacts of the CTC.
  • Partner with local sports teams to raise awareness of the CTC through their social media channels, events, and other engagements.

 

WEBINAR: Mastering Record Keeping and Taxes in the Age of Covid

Join Tom Copeland for this live virtual training specifically for Kansas child care programs presented by the Department for Children and Families in coordination with KCCTO. In this COVID-19 era, when accepting grants, learn what is taxable income and what can be deducted, gain knowledge about Small Business Administration loan programs, and decide when to claim social security benefits. Tom Copeland, a trainer, author, and advocate for family child care business will provide information on these and other child care business topics to Kansas child care programs.

Training Dates:

    • May 19, 2021: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
    • May 27, 2021: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

This live virtual training requires you to be visible on screen throughout the training using a webcam or front-facing camera. Details about access to the live virtual training will be provided via email the day of the event.  

Click here to register! — Note: All slots for this webinar series have been filled.

Click here to access a shareable flyer!


 

President Biden Announces Vaccine Priority for Child Care, Head Start, and Early Childhood Settings

From the Administration for Children & Families

On March 1, 2021, President Biden announced that he is directing states to prioritize teachers, early educators, and child care program staff members for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic vaccination. He issued a challenge to states to provide at least the first vaccine dose to teachers and early educators by the end of the month. This group includes prekindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, people who work in child care centers, family child care providers, and Head Start and Early Head Start program staff members. Vaccines will be available in pharmacy locations. Staff in child care, Head Start, and other early childhood settings will be able to sign up for appointments.

The Office of Early Childhood Development, Office of Child Care, and Office of Head Start are thrilled to see the Biden Administration prioritize these essential workers who have been on the frontlines in the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to sharing more information in the coming days, and we appreciate your partnership in this work.

Watch President Biden’s remarks below.

 


 

Help Shape the Future of Kansas Early Childhood Care and Education!

Kansas is hard at work developing the next Child Care and Development Fund Plan. The CCDF Plan outlines how Kansas intends to increase access to child care for low-income families​ and enhance the quality of all child care throughout the state.

Every three years, states are required to submit a new CCDF Plan to the Administration for Children and Families, so this is an opportunity to help shape what Kansas early childhood care and education policy and services will look like through 2024.

In addition to getting your input, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) is working closely with a wide range of early childhood care and education partners to find new opportunities to align with the All In For Kansas Kids Strategic Plan. DCF is also seeking feedback to help continue addressing COVID-19 pandemic challenges.

To share your thoughts and ideas, please consider reading the working draft of the plan and using this feedback form (note: this same form is also shared below.).

If you’d like more information, please attend one or more public input sessions hosted by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund and other partners throughout February.

Every voice matters!

Kansas Quality Network

 

Feedback Form: 2022-2024 Kansas Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Plan Feedback Form


 

Call-to-Action: Kansas Beats the Virus

Kansas Beats the Virus Logo

To combat the spread of COVID-19, the Kansas Leadership Center has launched “Kansas Beats the Virus,” a bi-partisan public health partnership with the State of Kansas. The Kansas Leadership Center is calling on its partners and alumni to hold 1,000 community meetings across the state by December 31. Out of those meetings will come a dramatic increase in the number of locally-generated efforts and initiatives to reduce the spread of this deadly virus. The goal is to inspire local solutions that keep Kansans healthy, schools and businesses open and our economy strong amidst the pandemic.

To learn more and get involved, visit KansasBeatsTheVirus.org.
To see the impact this call-to-action has made so far, visit the Kansas Beats the Virus webpage on the Kansas Leadership Center site.

 

 


 

Resources Available to Help Children Understand Recent Events

Images from the media can be scary and leave children feeling unsure of their surroundings, fearful, or anxious. According to NAEYC, children rely on the trusted adults in their lives to develop their understanding of big world issues. Creating a space for children to talk about these topics can help to guard against the potential negative impacts of witnessing community violence. The American Academy of Pediatrics shares that community violence can cause distress for young children.

Kansas Quality Network provides a variety of resources for families, caregivers, and community members to help navigate discussions and address recent events as they see fit for their family and children that they work with.

Parents and caregivers should always review content before sharing with the children in their care. We are not making recommendations on how to handle situations, but rather, providing resources to support families as they navigate these tough conversations.

Highlighted resources:

Reminder: Please be sure to review articles and activities to ensure they are appropriate for the age group.


 

New Position: L2Q Start Up Development Specialist

DCF is excited to announce a new opportunity to join the Links to Quality Team!

This position will collaborate in the development and implementation of Links to Quality (L2Q). L2Q is Kansas’ Quality Recognition and Improvement System (QRIS). A QRIS is a specific method designed to assess, improve and communicate quality in family and child care center programs. L2Q strives to increase access of quality child care for all Kansas families. Our goal is to define quality child care and to recognize, encourage, and motivate our child care programs and their work. It is our hope to provide statewide resources to child care providers to improve their quality and to provide information to families, so they can make informed decisions about their child care options.

The Start-Up Development Specialist will collaborate to develop, design, organize and implement L2Q start-up guidelines with the goal of assisting child care providers as they enter the field so that they are more likely to succeed and remain open. The purpose of this position will be to plan, direct, and monitor the implementation of all phases, designed by the agency/state to help support the building of child care capacity. This will include research and review of data to determine areas of the greatest need. Once identified they will work to actively recruit child care providers through outreach and partnerships. As part of the L2Q team, they will also collaborate with the team in the L2Q Program to help to identify needed improvements and actions to implement these recommendations.

Learn more and apply today!


 

FDA Warns of Hand Sanitizers with Methanol

From the Administration for Children and Families Office of Child Care:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to consumers and health care providers about hand sanitizer products that are labeled as containing ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol (i.e., methyl alcohol or wood alcohol) is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested. As per the FDA news update hyperlinked below, “Methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects. FDA’s investigation of methanol in certain hand sanitizers is ongoing. The agency will provide additional information as it becomes available.”

FDA has identified more than two dozen hand sanitizers that are toxic when absorbed through the skin. It is urgent that this information be sent to child care providers, parents, state child care licensing offices, child care professional development agencies, and others who can disseminate this information.

Consumers who have been exposed to a hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for the potential toxic effects of methanol poisoning, which can include nausea, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, permanent blindness, and seizures. Although people of all ages are at risk for methanol poisoning, “young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute are most at risk.”

Please see the full FDA news update on hand sanitizers with methanol for further information.


 

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