A Deeper Look at Early Education in Our Backyard

As the mother of a 16-month-old, I spend a lot of time thinking about the importance of early learning. My hope for him is no different than any other parent’s: that he will have access to the highest quality educational experiences which ultimately land him a successful job and a happy life. For this reason, my work at the Kauffman Foundation is not only professional, it’s personal, too.

Grayson French

In the Kansas City area, a significant number of young children lack the opportunity to enroll in quality early education. The consequences of this are devastating—socially and economically. How can our city prosper if we are not adequately investing in the development of our youngest citizens?

The Kauffman Foundation is proud to be a member of the Early Education Funders Collaborative, which aims to enhance quality and improve access to early childhood education for Kansas City area residents. The Collaborative is a joint effort of ten funders working together to make the best possible investments in Kansas City’s early childhood education services.

One of the Collaborative’s initial efforts is the Greater Kansas City Early Care and Education Study: Jackson County, Missouri. The report describes which families are currently accessing early childhood programs, who is providing these services, and what characteristics these providers offer. The information found within this study not only supports the Collaborative’s work, but also includes data that allows districts, schools, and centers a basis for future planning and decision-making.

For an overview, you can read the Executive Summary, but more detailed information is included in the full report. We hope these findings inform the efforts under way in Kansas City to ensure as many children as possible are prepared for kindergarten and beyond.

Special thanks to The Family Conservancy, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, and the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia, who conducted the survey and analysis.

So what’s next for the Early Education Funders Collaborative? A second phase of this study focused on Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas is underway for release in late 2016. Look for that and more on EDinsight as we continue to work toward better education and life outcomes for Kansas City children. 

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Halley French

Halley French is a program officer in Education for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where she supports education-focused initiatives through program development, project management, building relationships, and conducting research. She contributes to all areas of education programming and grantmaking.