Year One of Start Young proves successful; Year Two underway.

The Family Conservancy, a nonprofit serving at-risk children and families throughout the Kansas City metro, launched Start Young on July 1, 2018. Start Young is a public-private collaborative designed to improve child care in Wyandotte County, increasing access to high-quality, full-day, full-year child care for working families.

Currently, Wyandotte County only has capacity to serve approximately 40 percent of working families with young children. Many of the programs that are available are not full-day, full-year programs. Further complicating the issue, even when parents can find high-quality care that meets their needs, many have difficulty paying for it. Along with community partners: Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), United Way of Wyandotte County, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, and Child Care Aware of Kansas; Start Young works to support access and affordability of high-quality early education.

Access to high-quality child care provides benefits to parents and children across Wyandotte County:

  1. Allows parents to be gainfully employed so they have the resources to better support their families
  2. Prepares children for success in school and life by maximizing the crucial period of early brain development

Evidence shows that investment in these areas increases workforce participation, high school graduation rates, and community health outcomes; while decreasing rates of abuse, neglect, early parenthood, substance abuse, and incarceration. A summary from Year One’s impact can be found here.

This project was made possible by an initial, annual, three-year investment of $1M from the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund through Communities Aligned in Early Development and Education (CAEDE), contingent upon The Family Conservancy raising an additional $1M each year from the private sector. Several funders who supported the pilot in year one have already renewed their commitments for the second year of the project, including: Stanley H. Durwood Foundation, Wyandotte Health Foundation, and the Hall Family Foundation; and decisions from other current funders are expected to be announced soon.

The Family Conservancy is excited to announce the Systems of Care Initiative (SOCI) as a funder of both the second and third years, as their first community investment as a vehicle of support for education. “The vision of SOCI (pronounced so-she) is to support communities seeking to produce children who thrive in school, work, and life. It is an investment vehicle designed to make targeted early investments in high-performance organizations dedicated to improving school readiness and the health of at-risk children. For this, our board saw fantastic alignment with the Start Young project,” shares SOCI Executive Director, Dr. Janice Smith.

The Family Conservancy empowers Kansas City to raise happy, healthy, educated children. Programming supports families, caregivers and teachers in providing quality early education opportunities and mental health services for Kansas City’s youngest children in poverty. These services are designed to create the greatest impact during the most crucial time in a child’s development, so that every child enters kindergarten prepared to learn – setting the stage for a lifetime of success.