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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- NAEYC Resources on Coping with Violence
- Teaching Tolerance
- Sesame Street in Communities – Community Violence Resources
- Child Care Aware of America – Helping Children Cope with Traumatic Events
Reminder: Please be sure to review articles and activities to ensure they are appropriate for the age group.
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.
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.
Governor Laura Kelly, Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard and Child Care Aware of Kansas today announced additional benefits within the Hero Relief Program to continue to support child care providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought forth unexpected challenges for many Kansas families and businesses, and our child care providers were among the hardest hit,” Governor Kelly said. “These resources will help offset lost income, and will make sure our families have access to high-quality child care programs as we get Kansans back to work and back to school.”
Providers will now be eligible for Revenue Replacement and Health Care and Emergency Worker Support bonuses. The funding for these opportunities is provided by the Kansas Department for Children and Families through the federal CARES Act and is administered by Child Care Aware of Kansas.
“We know the pandemic continues to have significant impact on the child care community,” Howard said. “These new benefits will provide additional supports to providers who are working hard to keep their businesses viable.”
The revenue replacement grant opportunity is designed to provide financial assistance to DCF-enrolled child care providers and relative providers who have lost child care subsidy income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All DCF-enrolled providers will be eligible to receive this payment if they experience a measured decrease in subsidy payments, including school age programs and Head Start programs. Child care providers who are open or who have closed temporarily are eligible. Relative providers, enrolled as DCF providers, who have remained open are eligible.
The Health Care and Emergency Worker Support bonus is a one-time bonus to provide recognition to the child care provider and elevate the importance of ensuring that child care options are available to the health care and emergency workforce in Kansas. Due to the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 by caring for children of workers (parents/legal guardians) on the frontlines, a bonus acknowledges the additional protective measures needed to ensure a child care provider can meet the demand of a healthy and safe environment.
- Healthcare workers are defined for this program as hospital and nursing home employees.
- Emergency workers are defined for this program as fire, law enforcement, and corrections officers.
The following child care programs are eligible for the Health Care and Emergency Worker Support Bonus:
- Child care centers, school age programs and day care home (to include Group Day Care Home) programs must be licensed by and in good standing with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
- Child care centers, school age programs and day care home (to include Group Day Care Home) programs must hold a current Kansas Child Care Center License or a Kansas School Age Program License or a Kansas Day Care Home License or a Kansas Group Day Care Home License.
- Child care centers, school age programs and day care home (to include Group Day Care Home) programs must be currently open to provide care at least full-time (30 hours or more per week).
- Child care centers, school age programs and day care home (to include Group Day Care Home) programs who care for children with a parent/legal guardian working as a health care or emergency worker for organizations such as hospitals, nursing homes, fire and rescue, law enforcement, or correctional staff which have operated during the COVID-19 outbreak. Child(ren) identified must be or have been attending the program from the date of application to August 1, 2020.
Over the next few weeks, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) will be issuing a one-time benefit to help families with children between the ages of 5 and 18 who received free or reduced-price lunch during the 2019-2020 school year to help pay for food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the Pandemic EBT benefit, families will receive up to $291 per child in addition to any other services they are receiving and may only be used to purchase food items.
How will families receive their P-EBT benefits?
Most families recently or currently participating in food assistance (SNAP), child care assistance (subsidy), or cash assistance (TANF) programs will automatically receive their Pandemic EBT benefit on their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.
Families that are not actively participating in these programs but whose children receive free or reduced-price meals will be mailed a Kansas Benefits Card in the next few weeks with the benefit pre-loaded on the card. If these families do not receive a Kansas Benefits Card by June 5th, they may need to provide additional information to DCF. These families should watch for a confidential weblink provided by their school district.
How to use it?
The card functions similar to a debit card and can be used to purchase only eligible food items at EBT authorized retailers. Non-food items may not be purchased with this card.
For any additional questions, call 1-888-369-4777.
For a printable brochure, click here.
Department for Children and Families Announces Hero Relief Program
Program provides child care subsidies to eligible health care workers, first responders and other essential workers
Governor Laura Kelly and DCF Secretary Laura Howard today announced efforts to support parents and childcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Hero Relief Program” expands DCF’s child care assistance subsidies for families and provides financial support directly to child care providers. The new program specifically targets health care workers, first responders and other essential workers.
“We know these essential workers are risking their health every day to protect others,” Kelly said. “The Hero Relief Program is our way of saying ‘we’ve got your back’ by making sure families have access to quality affordable child care.”
Beginning Monday, April 20, child care subsidies will be available to essential workers who financially qualify.
The list includes:
- Health care workers (including RNs, other medical professionals and health care support workers, hospital and laboratory staff)
- First responders (including law enforcement, fire and rescue, and other public safety workers)
- Food and agriculture workers
- Judicial branch (essential services)
- National Guard
- Child and adult protective service specialists
- Child care providers caring for children of eligible workers listed above
In order to qualify, families must have countable gross income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. For an average family of four that equals a monthly income of $5,458. Families will receive the full DCF subsidy amount based on their family size, with no family-share deduction.
“During a time when these everyday heroes are working long hours, we hope this program helps relieve some of the financial burden they’re experiencing,” Howard said. “It’s our duty to support families during this uncertain time so we encourage families to apply.”
The Hero Relief Program also supports child care providers by providing a menu of stipends and grants to assist during the pandemic.
Grants may include:
- Sustainability stipends for all KDHE-Licensed child care and relative providers to help pay for ongoing expenses like food, supplies, labor and rent/mortgage.
- Revenue replacement subsidies for DCF enrolled child care providers
- Supply grants to assist with pandemic related expenses like gloves, disinfectants, soap and other necessary items.
- Emergency worker support bonuses – a one-time bonus to providers who care for children of health care workers and first responders.
For more information and for instructions on how to apply, visit KSHeroRelief.com.
For more information on COVID-19 visit: www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has created an online resource center updated daily with Kansas-specific guidance to help communities work together on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) planning. Included are resources designed specifically to support families and licensed child care facilities in their planning efforts.
For general questions related to COVID-19, review this FAQs document created by the Department for Children and Families (DCF) or call the KDHE’s hotline at 866-534-3463.
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