Governor Kelly Announces $4 Million Planning Grant to Advance Statewide Early Childhood System

TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly announced today that the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund has been awarded a $4 million 2023 Preschool Development Birth through Five Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. The grant will support the state’s ongoing efforts to bolster the early childhood workforce, support the physical and emotional well-being of our children, and ensure we design an early childhood system that meets the needs of all Kansas families.

“We know that a child’s development from birth to five years of age is vital to their trajectory in education and in life,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “This funding will allow us to plan and build upon initiatives that strengthen our integrated early childhood system, with a special focus on ensuring our most vulnerable children are prepared for kindergarten.”

The grant will support:

  • A study on how to better coordinate the state’s delivery of early childhood services to create a more streamlined system that is easy for all families to navigate, especially low-income and vulnerable populations.
  • Exploration of a service delivery model that empowers families to be part of designing a responsive early childhood care and education system and holding the system accountable.
  • Strengthening the early childhood sector’s workforce recruitment and growth.
  • Exploration of a compensation reform plan based on the true cost of care, market conditions, and the economic growth Kansas is experiencing.

“As a recipient of federal funding in 2018 and a three-year renewal grant in 2020, Kansas has amplified and expanded a continuum of services and supports to better meet the needs of Kansas children and their families,” Melissa Rooker, Executive Director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet, said. “We are excited to receive this new award which will allow us to take stock of our progress and design a future that ensures all Kansas children can thrive,”

To learn more about the progress of Kansas initiatives supported by this grant, visit

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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