Start Young Project aims to improve child care in Wyandotte County

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- It's one of the biggest expenses for families nationwide.

In Wyandotte County alone, child care has become inaccessible for many. Now, a new project aimed at helping families find quality and affordable care will launch this week. 

"We needed child care here in Wyandotte County," said Wanda Bibbs, Executive Director of Angels of Grace Family Service Center. 

Bibbs has been providing child care for 25 years. Currently, she runs the Angels of Grace Family Service Center. It's one of 16 licensed child care programs in Kansas City, Kansas that will receive funding under the Start Young Project. 

"Kids shouldn't be warehoused. They need to be educated and we have them from 8-10 hours," said Bibbs. 

Capacity is another issue for child care centers. Currently, Wyandotte County only has the capacity to serve approximately 40 percent of working families with young children. With the new Start Young Project, that will change. 

"Over a three-year pilot, we will increase by 300 spaces, quality spaces for children," said Dean Olson, CEO of The Family Conservancy.

The Family Conservancy is a local nonprofit that partnered with several agencies in the community to launch the new project. Start Young will help 16 child care centers in Wyandotte County provide high-quality care and scholarships to parents so they can pay for child care. It's also providing educational dollars for teachers. 

"This program's going to help us get our numbers up, providing some scholarship dollars to bring some kids into this program that would normally have to wait an extended time to receive benefits from Wyandotte County to get into the child care system," said Bibbs. 

The programs being funded will be full-day, year-round services. 

Last year, Wyandotte County conducted a community-wide health assessment. The study showed child care and early education were key to improving health outcomes in the community. 

On Wednesday, an event will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Children's Campus of Kansas City to launch the Start Young Project. 

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