Early Childhood

Early childhood experiences lay the foundation for a child’s future academic success. A child’s health and physical well-being, along with the development of cognitive, communication and social-emotional skills, all can be influenced by the community, educational environment, family and the individual child. Effective policies, targeted and appropriate levels of funding, and collaborative systems of support enhance a child’s ability to thrive in learning environments.
The Early Childhood Team at the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) supports local agencies providing early learning opportunities and collaborates with internal and external partners to strengthen early childhood in Kansas. Early childhood spans birth to age 8 (third grade). Our goal is that each student enters kindergarten at age 5 socially, emotionally and academically prepared for success.

Strengthening Early Childhood in Kansas

Kansas has the opportunity to shape our state’s future direction for early childhood. In 2019 thousands of Kansans informed a comprehensive needs assessment of early care and education programs and services. This led to development of the All in for Kansas Kids strategic plan. Now early childhood partners are working together to put this plan into action. The federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five provides funding for these activities. Visit:  https://kschildrenscabinet.org/all-in/  to learn more and get involved.

Kansas Early Learning Standards Update

The Kansas Early Learning Standards (KELS) is a document that provides information and guidance to early childhood providers and teachers, including early primary grade teachers, on the developmental continuum of learning for children from birth through kindergarten. The KELS provide information regarding what young children should know and be able to do as a result of engagement with caring knowledgeable adults, evidence-based curriculum, and developmentally appropriate activities. It is a dynamic resource that providers and teachers can use as they plan activities for, choose and implement curriculum, and engage in conversations with young children and their families around early learning.

A collaborative group of Kansas early childhood partners has worked together to review and complete this fourth revision to the Kansas Early Learning Standards. The first document was completed in 2006 with a second revision done in 2009 and a third revision in 2013.

The updated Kansas Early Learning Standards have been approved by both the Kansas State Board of Education and the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund. 

Click here to view the Kansas Early Learning Standards (updated April 2024)(external link).

Early Childhood Updates

The KSDE Early Childhood team regularly shares updates in KSDEweekly, the weekly newsletter that is the one-stop source for KSDE news and information. You can email ksdeweekly@ksde.org to request to subscribe to KSDEweekly newsletters. Click here to view previous KSDEweekly updates related to early childhood

However, please email Beccy Strohm (bstrohm@ksde.org) with updates to district points of contact for all early childhood programs.

Kansas Parents as Teachers (KPAT)

The Parents as Teachers® (PAT) evidence-based affiliate model provides parents with the skills and knowledge they need to help make informed decisions regarding their child’s education. The program includes personal visits, group connections, health, vision, hearing and developmental screenings, and supports family connections with other community services. KSDE serves as the Parents as Teachers® State Office and supports local programs with implementing the Parents as Teachers affiliate model. The Kansas Parents as Teachers page has more information. 

Preschool Programming

High-quality early learning opportunities prepare students to enter kindergarten at age 5 socially, emotionally and academically prepared for success. KSDE administers several programs that provide funding to support preschool for Kansas students: the Preschool-Aged At-Risk (State Pre-K 4 Year Old At-Risk) program, the Kansas Preschool Pilot, and Early Childhood Special Education (Section 619 of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act). While these programs each have unique requirements, KSDE encourages local districts to offer services that support the needs of each student in inclusive environments. KSDE also hosts the State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC), which is responsible for advising and assisting the Kansas governor and legislature on matters that impact Kansas families with children ages birth to 5 who have, or are at risk for, developmental delays. For more information about Preschool Programs visit our Preschool Program link.

Kansas Kindergarten Readiness Snapshot Tool

To advance kindergarten readiness in Kansas, all Kansas kindergarten classrooms are utilizing a new tool to better understand students’ development. The Ages & Stages Questionnaires, Third Edition (ASQ-3) and the Ages & Stages Questionnaires: Social-Emotional, Second Edition (ASQ: SE-2) provide a snapshot of children’s developmental milestones. The Kindergarten Readiness page has more information.

Page Links

Early Childhood Home Page
    (General information, Webinars)

Early Childhood Director
Amanda Petersen

Kansas Parents as Teachers Consultant
Lisa Williams

Early Childhood Special Education Consultant
Position Open 

Early Childhood /State Preschool Programs Consultant
Natalie McClane

SICC (State Interagency Coordinating Council) Consultant
Stacy Clarke

Problems with this webpage Contact
Beccy Strohm
(785) 296-6602

Early Childhood Fact Sheets

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