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Grants for early education providers in Kansas City support what is essential to our future – high-quality childcare

A branded collage for Quality Enhancement Grants.

Investment in high-quality early education supports lasting benefits for young children.

It’s no surprise business leaders, economists, and even the Biden Administration have been elevating the importance of childcare and early learning in recent months. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the essential nature of the early education system in keeping our economy intact by allowing people to continue going to work while having reliable care for their children.

A stable early childhood infrastructure supports economic growth and workforce participation – especially for mothers. But arguably, the most important role it plays is in promoting the healthy development of young children. Ensuring equitable access to high-quality early learning is therefore an investment in our future. The benefits of high-quality early education experiences are well-documented. Children who have access to these programs are better prepared for school, less likely to need special education services, and twice as likely to pursue higher education.[1][2][3] Research also shows that high-quality early learning programs have life-long impacts on a person’s health and increase the chances they will earn a living wage.[4][5][6]

The word “quality” means different things to different people. For parents – including myself – oftentimes high-quality is as simple as a having a warm, trusted provider who forms a strong relationship with their child and provides responsive caregiving. Walk the halls of El Centro’s Academy for Children or Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired here in Kansas City, and the laughter and joy echoing throughout will leave little doubt as to whether small brains are growing. While there is no lack of compassionate care taking place in center-, school-, and home-based providers across the region, many lack access to the resources required to work toward their professional goals. Researchers in the field have defined high-quality programs through the lenses of teacher-child interactions, the use of developmentally appropriate activities, environmental characteristics, and a staff with specialized training.

Using this evidence as a springboard, the Kauffman Foundation launched the Quality Enhancement Grants (QEG) program in 2019 to support early education providers in the Kansas City region in advancing their quality improvement goals. The aim of the program is to allow providers to self-identify their priorities and seek funding to implement the necessary activities to achieve them.

Support through Quality Enhancement Grants is offered in five broad categories during a two-year period:

  • Curriculum
  • Teacher-child interactions
  • Social-emotional learning
  • Screening and assessment
  • Organizational strengthening

In previous years, the Kauffman Foundation supported Learn A Lot Academy in working toward state and national accreditation, Della Lamb in implementing trauma-informed care, and Kansas City Kansas Public Schools in bridging the gap between pre-k and kindergarten – just a few examples of how early education practitioners have identified opportunities to strengthen their programs.

The QEG application will be available March 2 with a deadline of April 5. Learn more about the Quality Enhancement Grants program and how to apply >


[1] Peisner-Fienberg, E., et al. (1999); Karoly, L., et al. (1998). Investing in Our Children: What We Know and Don’t Know About the Costs and Benefits of Early Childhood Interventions. RAND Corporation.

[2] Reynolds, A. J., et al. (2001). Long-term effects of an early childhood intervention on educational achievement and juvenile arrest. JAMA, 285(18), 2339-2346.

[3] Barnett, W. S. and Masse, L. N. (2007). Comparative benefit-cost analysis of the Abecedarian program and its policy implications. Economics of Education Review, 26, 113-125

[4] Campbell, F. A, et al. (2014). Early Childhood Investments Substantially Boost Adult Health. Science. 343(6178): 1478-1485

[5] Barnett, W. S., and Masse, L. N. (2002). A Benefit Cost Analysis of the Abecedarian Early Childhood Intervention. [1] Atinc, Tamar Manuelyan and Emily Gustafson-Wright. “Early Childhood Development: the Promise, the Problem, and the Path Forward.” November 25, 2013. The Brookings Institution. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.

[6] Atinc, Tamar Manuelyan and Emily Gustafson-Wright. “Early Childhood Development: the Promise, the Problem, and the Path Forward.” November 25, 2013. The Brookings Institution. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.