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Kansas: Investing in the Child Care Industry: An Economic Development Strategy for Kansas

Project status

Completed March, 2003

Lead Agency

Kansas City Metropolitan Council on Child Care
James M. Caccamo, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Metropolitan Council on Early Learning
600 Broadway, Suite 300
Kansas City, Missouri 64105-1554

Contact Person

Sally Paige Kahle
Kansas Dept. of Social and Rehabilitation Services
915 SW Harrison Street
Topeka KS 66612

Research Firm

Cornell University, Mildred Warner PhD
Dept. of City & Regional Planning
204 West Sibley
Ithaca, NY 14853


  • Number of Establishments
  • Child Care Labor Force
  • Children Served
  • Gross Receipts
  • Multiplier Effects on Local Economy
  • Governmental Transfers / Subsidies
  • Tax Receipts / Fiscal Impact


  • Long Report (15+ Pages)
  • Stand-Alone Executive Summary/Brochure
  • Newspaper Article / Media Coverage
  • Conducted a Series of Presentations
  • Sent Out an Outreach Letter
  • Involved Business / Economic Development

Case Study

Case Study: Kansas
“Investing in the Child Care Industry: An Economic Development Strategy for Kansas”
Date of Study Completion: April, 2003



The Kansas State study was first conceived of by Sally Paige Kahle, of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS), who provided coordination and technical support throughout the process. SRS contracted with the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), a coalition of local governments for Greater Kansas City, to conduct the study in partnership with Cornell University Linking Economic Development and Child Care team and Louise Stoney, from the Alliance for Early Childhood Finance. An advisory committee was convened to guide the study, and included staff or representatives from the following: the Kansas Children's Cabinet, the statewide CCR&R organization, the research department of MARC which completes economic forecasting and analysis, child advocacy organizations with data knowledge or experience, SRS budget office, child care licensing and subsidy divisions, the Department of Commerce, a private sector economic development organization, the market rate survey research team, the early care and education professional development system, the National Child Care Information Center, and a key child care lobbyist.


At the time of the report, Kansas was facing potential cuts to its subsidy programs and used the study, in part, to provide data that could be used to stop the cuts. The aim of the study was to quantify the economic impact of child care in order to expand and strengthen support for early care and education among policy makers, economic development professionals, and the business community. Additionally, the study sponsors sought to give early childhood professionals the language and information necessary to speak with the business community and those in the field of economic development.

The Study:

Sector Definition

The Kansas steering committee agreed that all types of privately operated care and education programs should be included in the study. This includes center-and family-based child care, Head Start, private preschools, and after-school programs, but excluded Pre-kindergarten since it is a small public school based program in Kansas . Informal child care arrangements were noted in some sections of the report (where data were available) but were not included in overall calculations of gross receipts and industry size because of a lack of comprehensive data.

Data Analysis

Measurement* Kansas
Number of Establishments 8,645
Child Care Labor Force 14,370/yr
Children Served 100,000/yr
Gross Receipts $500 million/yr
Number of Parents with Children in Paid Care X
Multiplier Effects on Local Economy X
Governmental Transfers / Subsidies X
Tax Receipts / Fiscal Impact  

*Not all studies included the same components making it difficult to compare the numbers provided in this chart with those of other studies. In its definition of the number of establishments, this study included licensed and regulated center and family care, and did not include regulation-exempt home-based care (informal care) or pre-K in public schools. In its definition of gross receipts, this study included provider charges (parent fees and vouchers in lieu of parent fees), and government funded programs (Head Start, Pre-K) and provider subsidies (quality dollars, Child and Adult Care Food Program, etc.)

The authors recognized that an economic impact analysis of the child care sector would highlight the sector’s importance for legislators and others who may not have thought previously about its contribution to the economy. The language used in the report is an indication of the forethought put into this effort, as the authors strove to bring a new lens to the issues surrounding child care. The report refers to the child care sector both as an industry and as infrastructure, and compares child care to other infrastructures such as transportation and housing to indicate its centrality. The report also compares child care to higher education and health care – areas which require public investment in order to achieve affordability along with high quality service.

Data Challenges:

Among the many challenges faced by the authors of the report was a lack of necessary data, or data inconsistencies. They found that the available data wasn’t very “clean” because there hadn’t been specific data collection for this purpose before the study. They were asking questions that hadn’t yet been addressed at the local or state level, and as pioneers, were challenged in the execution of their work. This was addressed by using multiple sources of data to answer the same questions. While triangulating the data enabled more accurate estimations to be made, more time and energy was required to secure at least three reliable sources of data for each data point.

Data challenges made the formation of the steering committee particularly important. The members of the steering committee needed to be able to determine which data was most appropriate for the analysis, as well as which data sources would carry the greatest legitimacy among both legislators and early childhood professionals.

Unique Findings

  • The Kansas study was the first to promote the concept of “leverage”- the benefit that child care provides the state as a result of leveraging a significant amount of federal dollars. 
  • Multipliers were performed on subsidy dollars alone to demonstrate the important subsidy impact on the Kansas economy. This demonstrated that 217 jobs and $6.5 million would be lost if eligibility was lowered from 150% of poverty to 185% of poverty.


Organizational Change and Outreach

The target audience for the Kansas study was policy makers and the business community. Representatives from each of these sectors played a critical role on the Advisory Committee to help frame the style of the study in a way that could be easily grasped by both. The use of bullet points, concise wording, and a visually interesting design were all based on recommendations from these groups. Additionally, the Lieutenant Governor and members of the business community were trained as spokespeople to assist in the roll out of the report to reach the business community.

In the process of assisting with data collection for the study, the statewide CCR&R agency also realized the limitations of its current data capacity. As a result, they have revised and strengthened their systems and hired a staff person to focus specifically on data collection and maintenance.

The authors of the study recognized that its usefulness depended on public awareness and interest after its completion. They highlighted the importance of reaching out to various media venues and relevant organizations to create interest around the study. In particular, Adrienne Woolley, MARC’s Policy and Research Analyst spoke at a number of economic development summits around the state, using the report as context for her talks. Sally Kahle developed a PowerPoint and presented to CCR&Rs across the state in an effort to get the message out. There was extensive media coverage statewide surrounding the release of the report, and local coverage on the report at a number of the local economic development summits.

Greater Kansas City has a unique coalition, the Partners in Quality and its Early Learning Leadership Board, that includes business and civic leaders who are actively engaged in strengthening the City's child care system. Both the Civic Council and the Chamber of Commerce adopt early child care platforms each year. Abby Thorman, the former director of the Metropolitan Council on Early Learning at MARC, established strong relationships with key business champions in supporting early childhood initiatives in Greater Kansas City and the states of Kansas and Missouri . These well established connections helped the study to reach a broader audience.


The report highlighted several concrete policy recommendations for the state of Kansas, including increasing state funding in order to maximize the federal funding available to the state, maintaining income eligibility for child care subsidies at 185 percent of the federal poverty level, and increasing funding for the Early Learning Grants program and the Smart Start initiative.. Funds for the Smart Start initiative were significantly increased in 2003.

Interview with:
Abby Thorman, Ph.D., Former Director
Metropolitan Council on Early Learning at Mid-America Regional Council
June 10th, 2004
Adrienne Woolley, Policy and Research Analyst
Metropolitan Council on Early Learning at Mid-America Regional Council
Mid-America Regional Council
October 4th, 2004


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