Latest News

Governor Laura Kelly Announces $53 Million in Appreciation Bonuses for Child Care Providers

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced that her administration is giving a total of $53 million to eligible child care staff at licensed facilities as a reward for their incredibly essential, hard work. The funds will be made available through Child Care Workforce Appreciation Bonuses that will soon be directly distributed to approximately 22,650 early childhood care staff members across Kansas. Individual bonus amounts will range from $750 to $2,500 per person.

“Early childhood development is the smartest investment a community can make. Early childhood education programs benefit our kids in the long-term, both in and out of the classroom, and they make it possible for parents to enter and participate in the workforce,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “That’s exactly why we’re making a total of $53 million available to nearly 23,000 child care providers throughout Kansas: We want to show our gratitude for all they do every single day.”

Eligible child care providers must be regularly working in a paid position at a licensed facility and have a minimum of six months continuous employment at their current employer or six months of combined continuous employment with a licensed provider. Home-based and relative providers may also qualify for the bonus program. There is also an opportunity for those who have worked less than six months at a licensed facility to receive a bonus. The Appreciation Bonus is a one-time payment that will begin in mid-to-late July and is funded through federal Child Care Development Funds.

Licensed facilities include child care centers, including all Head Start programs and preschools; school age programs; day care homes; and DCF relative providers.

“Working in child care is a calling, one that inspires and educates the minds of young Kansans, and plays an important role in strengthening Kansas families,” said Laura Howard, Secretary of Kansas Department for Children and Families. “We cannot say it enough — Thank you child care workers for everything you do for Kansas children!”

Child Care Aware of Kansas (CCAKS) will implement the program on behalf of the Kansas Department for Children and Families and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. All eligible child care workers will receive a letter in July outlining the process to accept the bonus and will have until Nov. 18 to act. CCAKS will offer educational webinars about the process as well. Learn more at

“Child care professionals are essential to a thriving Kansas economy, providing high-quality early care and education to young children while ensuring parents are able to work,” said Kelly Davydov, Executive Director of Child Care Aware of Kansas. “We’re grateful for their service to young children and families.”

The Child Care Workforce Appreciation Bonus program is one more way the Kelly Administration has supported child care providers to create real, sustainable change in child care in Kansas.

In total, the Kelly Administration has invested more than $272 million to support child care providers, including three rounds of Child Care Sustainability Grants to aid child care providers to meet the costs of operating their businesses through the remaining impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The third round of Child Care Sustainability Grants announced in March made more than $160 million available for child care businesses to use toward payroll expenses, costs of operations, and potential revenue losses. Rounds one and two of the Sustainability grants provided nearly $100 million in support to ensure child care centers and home-based providers were able to remain open.

HERO Relief Provider Funding assisted all open child care providers and related providers with funding supports during the immediate impact of COVID-19. More than $11 million was awarded to providers to assist with unexpected expenses related to the pandemic.

Governor Kelly also wrote a letter to licensed child care providers thanking them for their work and informing them of how to qualify for the bonus award. The letter is available here.



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.


Governor Laura Kelly Announces Actions to Assist Kansans Affected by Infant Formula Shortage

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced actions her administration has taken to ease the burden on Kansas families affected by the nationwide infant formula shortage. Since February, the Kelly Administration has been working with state agencies and federal partners to address the issue. 

“I have directed all state agencies to do everything in their power to help Kansans access vital infant formula,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “From increasing flexibility to helping eliminate barriers at check-out, my Administration is doing what is within our power to ease the impact of the national infant formula shortage on Kansas families.” 

Governor Kelly has instructed agencies to work with their federal counterparts to expedite relief. To that end, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has taken a leading role in working with the White House, the National Governors Association, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Association, and private industry to help coordinate efforts and eliminate red tape. 

KDHE has implemented a series of waivers to provide the maximum flexibility in making more infant formula products – including Ready to Feed (RTF) formulas – available to Kansans and has approved additional formula products for use by Kansas WIC families. The agency is also working with the Kansas Department for Children and Families on increased communication efforts to inform the public of possible alternatives. 

The Kelly Administration, including KDHE, recommends the following to families struggling to find the formula they need to feed their child:  

  • Call your OBGYN or pediatrician to see if they can provide any resources to access formula or for suggestions on an alternative formula to meet your infant’s health needs. 
  • Switch to another brand or type of formula that is available if recommended by your infant’s physician. 
  • Contact your local WIC agency to see if the infant is eligible for WIC benefits. 

“KDHE is committed to ensuring infants in Kansas have access to formula,” Secretary Janet Stanek said. “Since February, we have been working to do what is possible, within our authority, to provide relief for Kansans. We urge all impacted families to follow these recommendations and stay up-to-date with information to care for their family’s needs.” 

Families are strongly encouraged not to unnecessarily stockpile formula in such a way that would cause further strain on the supply chain.  

KDHE strongly discourages the use of toddler formula to feed infants, watering down formula, or trying to make infant formula at home. 

The Kelly Administration will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates as they become available. For more information about WIC eligibility, visit the KDHE WIC website. Find the approved substitution formula list for WIC families here. 



Emergency rental assistance available through Kansas Housing Resource Corporation

The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation (KHRC) is providing rent, utility, and internet assistance to households experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID pandemic through the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program. To date, KHRC has paid out over $73 million in emergency rental assistance through the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance (KERA) program, but there are still millions of dollars left that can be used to stop people from being evicted. Landlords and tenants apply via a joint online process. If the application is approved, the landlord or service provider receives funds directly from KERA and applies KERA funds to the applicant’s account. Approved applicants are eligible for up to 12 months of assistance.

If you or anyone you know are in need of assistance as a tenant or landlord, please visit the KERA website and consider sharing the following resources:





Support available through emergency water assistance program

$9 million available to qualifying Kansas households
Kansans may apply for the program beginning Dec. 1

(Topeka, KS) – Kansas households adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may benefit from a new program to help restore or prevent disconnection of drinking water and wastewater services.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) is the administrating agency for the Emergency Water Assistance Program (EWAP), a new temporary federal program authorized by the American Rescue Plan of 2021 and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“The program’s sole focus is to restore or prevent disconnection of water to Kansas households,” DCF Secretary Laura Howard said. “Kansas was awarded $9 million to support hardworking Kansas households who have gotten behind on their water bills because of the pandemic.”

Once the funding is exhausted, the program will end. Households may apply only one for the program and it is separate from other DCF assistance programs such as the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP).

Applications for EWAP will be available Dec. 1. Kansans are encouraged to visit for information about qualifying and applying for the program. They may also contact their local DCF Service Center, Office Locator Map – Services (

An EWAP qualifying Kansas household:

  • Currently disconnected from drinking water and/or wastewater services or have received a disconnection notice.
  • At least one adult household member must be responsible for drinking water and/or wastewater costs incurred at the primary residence payable to either the landlord or to the water utility vendor.
  • At least one household member must be a US citizen or meet the lawful residency requirements.
  • Combined gross income equal to or less than 150% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL).


An important partner for the successful distribution of the funding are water utilities companies in Kansas. “Public water utility partnership is vital to the success of the water assistance program,” said Howard. “DCF is required to pay the public water utility provider, not the household. The sooner the utility company is in the system, the faster payment will be made on behalf of the household by DCF.”

Water partners are asked to submit a signed water vendor agreement and tax documents that can be found on


Press Release: Program Administration Support

Child Care Aware of Kansas, in partnership with the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and Links to Quality, launched Program Administration Support to provide one-on-one assistance to licensed child care providers as they strengthen their business practices.

Working with a community consultant, the provider will focus on topics related to business practices of operating a successful, quality child care. Topics range from access community resources and budgeting to contracts and marketing.

“This new service focuses on targeted goal setting,” said Kelly Davydov, Child Care Aware of Kansas Executive Director. “The child care provider determines the pace and content they want to receive.”

Program Administration Support comes at a critical time for the state’s child care system. The 2020 Child Care Supply Demand Report showed an increasing shortage of child care settings across Kansas, affecting families ability to find quality care. When individualized key business practices are in place, child care providers are better able to keep their doors open and focus on the children in their care. Child care programs that utilize Program Administration Support services are also eligible to apply for grant funds to purchase critical supplies that improve business.

“Program Administration Support is a critical tool for hard-working child care businesses as they ensure families have a consistent, safe and healthy place to take their children. We are thrilled to support child care businesses as they improve upon the valuable service they already offer,” Davydov said.

“I have learned to accept that my job is more than providing quality care for children,” said Melody Smalls, owner and operator of Little Sunshine in Ulysses, Kans. I have learned that providing child care is a business and requires much attention on the business side to be successful.”

For more information about Program Administration Support, visit Child Care Aware’s website!


Be Heard: Participate in the early childhood workforce needs assessment!

The Workforce Development Advisory Group conducts an annual statewide needs assessment to determine the training needs and interests of child care providers in Kansas. Due to COVID-19, a survey was not conducted in 2020. This means that it is even more important for you to add your voice to this year’s survey. Kansas early childhood systems need to know what YOU need at this moment in time, especially considering all the challenges and relief support/funding you’ve been presented with over the last 18 months.

When is the survey available?

Multiple partners will electronically distribute the needs assessment survey between October 18-November 21, 2021, (mailed copies available upon request). If you receive this survey from multiple sources, please complete the survey only once.

Who can complete the survey?

If you work in an early childhood setting providing care to children ages 0-12, this survey is for you!

  • Day Care Home/Family Child Care providers and assistants
  • Center-based staff and administrators
  • Preschool staff and administrators
  • Head Start/Early Head Start staff and administrators
  • School-age program staff and administrators
  • Tribal child care staff and administrators
  • Drop-in program staff and administrators
  • Relative care providers

Administrators: please have one administrator per facility complete the survey. However, all other staff at your facility are encouraged to complete the survey in addition to the one administrator completion.

Is my response anonymous?

While the survey itself will be anonymous, you will have the opportunity after survey completion to provide your information to be entered into a drawing for door prizes.

What happens to the collected information?

After the survey period closes, results will be analyzed and compiled to showcase key findings. These findings will be shared with early childhood system partners and stakeholders across the state of Kansas.

Results will also be available electronically for you to review.

In early 2022, focus groups will be held across the state to meet with providers for an in-depth exploration of the survey’s key findings. These focus groups will add context to the key findings and provide valuable information for early childhood system partners and stakeholders as they work to create or adapt existing services to better meet your needs as an early childhood professional.

Complete the Survey Now!

English and Spanish translations are available for your convenience.

2021 Survey


If you have questions or need accommodations, contact KCCTO at and 785-532-7197 or 800-227-3578.


Encuesta de necesidades de la fuerza laboral en primera infancia

El Grupo Asesor de Desarrollo para la Fuerza Laboral realiza una evaluación anual sobre las necesidades a nivel estatal para determinar las necesidades y los intereses de capacitación de los proveedores de cuidado infantil en Kansas. Debido a COVID-19, no se realizó una encuesta en el 2020. Es por eso, ahora más que nunca, es importante que usted haga saber sus opiniones en la encuesta de este año. Los sistemas de primera infancia en Kansas necesitan saber lo que USTED necesita en este momento, especialmente teniendo en cuenta todos los desafíos y el apoyo/fondo de ayuda que se le presento los últimos 18 meses.

¿Cuándo estará disponible la encuesta?

Varios socios distribuirán la encuesta electrónicamente entre el 18 de octubre al 21 de noviembre del 2021 (copias enviadas por correo disponibles a petición). Si recibe esta encuesta de varios socios, favor de completar la encuesta solo una vez.

¿Quién puede completar la encuesta?

Si trabaja en un entorno de la primera infancia brindando atención a niños de 0 a 12 años, ¡esta encuesta es para usted!

  • Proveedores y asistentes de Guarderías en Hogar/Cuidado Infantil para Familias
  • Personal y administradores en centros
  • Personal y administradores de preescolar
  • Personal y administradores de Head Start/Early Head Start
  • Personal y administradores de programas para niños de edad escolar
  • Personal y administradores en guarderías o cuidado infantil tribales
  • Personal y administradores de programas de cuidado sin previo aviso (drop-in)
  • Proveedores de cuidado para parientes

Administradores: favor de asegurarse que un administrador por cada instalación complete la encuesta. Sin embargo, se anima al resto del personal en su instalación que complete la encuesta además de la que complete el administrador.

¿Es anónima mi respuesta?

Si bien la encuesta en sí será anónima, usted tendrá la oportunidad de proporcionar su información al final de la encuesta para entrar en un sorteo de premios.

¿Qué sucede con la información recopilada?

Después de que se cierre el período de la encuesta, los resultados se analizarán y compilarán para mostrar los hallazgos principales. Estos hallazgos se compartirán con los socios del sistema de la primera infancia y depositarios del estado de Kansas.

Los resultados también estarán disponibles electrónicamente para que usted los pueda ver.

A principios de 2022, se llevarán a cabo grupos focales en todo el estado para que se pueda reunir con proveedores y hacer una exploración profunda de los hallazgos principales de esta encuesta. Estos grupos focales agregarán contexto a los hallazgos principales y proporcionarán información valiosa para los socios y depositarios del sistema de la primera infancia a medida que trabajan para crear o adaptar los servicios existentes y así responder a sus necesidades como profesional de primera infancia.

¡Complete la encuesta ahora!

Traducciones en inglés y español están disponibles para su conveniencia.

2021 Encuesta


Si tiene preguntas o necesita adaptaciones, comuníquese con KCCTO al y al 785-532-7197 o al 800-227-3578.


Governor Laura Kelly announces additional grants to support Kansas child care providers

Governor Laura Kelly today announced that Child Care Aware of Kansas, in partnership with Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF), is launching a second round of Child Care Sustainability Grants to aid child care providers in meeting the costs of operating their business.

Grant awards will range from $5,000 for family child care programs to $60,000 for large centers.

“At the height of the pandemic, the Child Care Sustainability grant program supported nearly 3,200 child care centers in Kansas, allowing them to stay open when families needed them most,” Governor Kelly said. “As we grow the economy, this second round of grants will provide the continued support our child care facilities need to stay open and to ensure that Kansas families have access to safe, quality child care.”

“Time and again we heard from child care providers that as families sheltered in place during the pandemic, they were faced with difficult decisions involving staffing, operating expenses and even providing classroom supplies,” Kansas DCF Secretary Laura Howard said. “We are confident the second round of grants will continue to provide needed support to child care providers and offer one less worry for Kansas families.”

The Child Care Sustainability grant application will be available via the Child Care Aware of Kansas website beginning Oct. 1, 2021, and must be received by 5 p.m., Nov. 5, 2021. To be considered for funding, child care programs must maintain an active permanent license with Kansas Department of Health and Environment, whether they remain open or temporarily closed.

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.

“Child care providers are essential to parents’ ability to work, especially at a time when child care is in such short supply. Financial support from these grants will stabilize our existing child care infrastructure, ensuring that parents have a safe, nurturing environment for their young children,” Kelly Davydov, Executive Director, said.

For more information about the Child Care Sustainability Grants, visit


DCF & KDHE partnering to cover child care program fees!

The Kansas Department for Children and Families and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are partnering to expand support for child care providers in this time of great need. Beginning September 1, 2021, the agencies will use funds allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to cover the cost of applying for child care licensure and the cost of required comprehensive background checks for child care program staff. These fees will be waived until September 30, 2023.

For additional information, please contact the KDHE Child Care Licensing Program Team by calling 785-296-1270 or emailing them at



for families, providers, and those new to child care



for the details on all things related to caring for Kansas children



about early learning research, product recalls, new regulations, and more

Links to Quality

Learn about our pilot program for quality child care