About Healthy Kids Bright Futures

Healthy Kids Bright Futures lifts up families with children ages zero to three to build a strong foundation for children’s academic success. The project connects families to coordinated services while engaging them in building leadership in Healthy Kids Bright Futures and in their communities.

The project focuses on non-Early Head Start, early care and education centers that serve families with limited income in communities that have the greatest need. In Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, there are more children who need care than available quality spaces in centers.

Wyandotte County
Children under 6: 16,314
Capacity of licensed child care centers: 3,442
Quality spaces in licensed centers: 948

Jackson County
Children under 6: 53,541
Capacity of licensed child care centers: 18,575
Quality spaces in licensed centers: 4,034

Source: Child Care Aware of America

 

Building Blocks

The project’s collaborative and comprehensive approach pulls together families, centers and their communities to help children be more ready for kindergarten.

Families: Building leadership skills and engagement

Families can have a powerful voice for meaningful change that impacts their children, the learning environment and their community. However, few early care and education centers offer opportunities for family engagement and leadership. Here’s how the project partners with families:

  • Families receive core training on topics such as child development, nurturing relationships and developmentally appropriate activities. Also, customized trainings are offered according to the needs identified at each center.
  • Through community advisory councils, families speak out for solutions to health, racial and economic disparities and propose solutions that work for them. The advisory councils also provide feedback for the Healthy Kids Bright Futures project as a whole.
  • Healthy Kids Bright Futures recruits families to serve on a steering committee that oversees the project.

Centers: Strengthening practices and policies

Quality early care and education centers can have lasting positive effects on children, their families and communities. However, many centers have limited capabilities and connections to support optimal child and family education, health and development. Here’s how the project partners with centers:

  • Centers receive individualized support in enhancing quality education and establishing practices and policies that support a healthy and safe physical center environment.
  • Staff receive core and specialized trainings based on their needs. Topics include building family resilience and relationships, childhood obesity and trauma informed care.

Community: Building a network of support for families

Communities offer many resources that can help families in multiple areas of their lives. But geography and eligibility issues, system fragmentation and lack of affordability make it difficult to access those resources. Here’s how the project partners with communities:

  • Community navigators help families identify their individual needs through an assessment and referral screening and support them as they connect to community partners.
  • Community partners from multiple sectors provide services and resources to support optimal health and development for children.

Healthy Kids Bright Futures involves multiple partners and collaborating organizations. As the project progresses, we’ll expand this network.

  • Connections – Project Eagle
  • Melinda K. Lewis, Consultant
  • Mother & Child Health Coalition
  • Weighing In, A Program of Children’s Mercy Hospital
  • Mid-America Regional Council
  • The Family Conservancy
  • The Guardian Group
  • University of Kansas Medical Center

For more information, please contact Rhonda Erpelding, project director, at 816-523-5353 or rerpelding@kchealthykids.org.