Governor Kelly Signs First Executive Order of Second Term to Improve Early Childhood Development

Topeka, KS- Governor Laura Kelly today signed the first executive order of her second term, Executive Order 23-01, to establish the Early Childhood Transition Task Force. The Task Force is charged with reviewing Kansas’ early childhood programs and developing a roadmap for the creation of a new state, cabinet-level agency focused solely on supporting the success of our youngest Kansans.  

“Yesterday, I laid out a vision for my next four years, to make Kansas the best place in America to raise a family. Today we are taking a significant step forward in pursuit of that goal,” Governor Kelly said. “Giving Kansas kids the strongest start to life is the best possible investment we can make. This task force will determine how to make that investment most effectively.”  

The task force will analyze the current early childhood system and how it is financed – focusing on gaps, inefficiencies, and redundancies. It will also conduct a series of stakeholder engagement opportunities and draft a transition plan for the new agency. 

The task force will build on the Kelly Administration’s first term efforts around early childhood, which include investing more than $270 million to support child care providers and increasing access to reliable, affordable child care. 

The task force will include representatives from state government, the private sector, philanthropic organizations, early childhood service providers, and advocacy organizations. Governor Kelly will also invite members of the Kansas Senate and the Kansas House of Representatives to be members of the task force. 

The complete text of Executive Order #23-01 can be found here. 

What they’re saying: 

“Early childhood care and education is the cornerstone for a child’s well-being,” Secretary of the Department for Children and Families Laura Howard said. “I am excited to embark on this journey of collaboration, under the steady leadership of Governor Kelly, as we work to move early childhood policy forward to address the needs of Kansas families.” 

“I applaud the Governor for having the vision to create this task force,” Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Janet Stanek said. “I look forward to collaborating with policy experts and others to align on early childhood policy development within a future agency that will bring greater efficiencies and eliminate structural barriers for families, communities, and businesses.” 

“The work of this new task force represents a commitment to the transformational change needed to create an early childhood care and education system that works for all Kansas families,” Melissa Rooker, executive director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, said. “The pandemic revealed the challenges in our current system, and we are excited to go to work developing an action plan to address barriers, gaps, and opportunities to serve our youngest Kansans more effectively.” 

“Governor Kelly is a champion for Kansas children who understands that high-quality early learning opportunities and family support programs are among the best investments we can make as a state,” John Wilson, President of Kansas Action for Children, said. “The best policies and proposals are those that have been shaped by diverse stakeholders, which is why I am excited for the work of this task force. It will build upon the strong, collaborative work that’s been happening across state agencies to improve the health and well-being of children and families.”