Child Start provides early childhood development services that prepare young children for lifelong success.
Child Start was established in 1958, created in response to unmet needs for child care in the community. The United Fund (now United Way of the Plains) had appointed a committee to look into the problem, and that committee recommended establishment of a new agency to oversee the sponsored services.
Incorporated on June 16, 1958, the new agency was named Wichita Child Day Care Association and immediately took over the operation of a “day nursery” originally established in 1927 by the Junior League of Wichita and operated from 1935 to 1958 by Family Consultation Service. In addition to operating the day nursery, WCDCA took an active role in promoting parents’ interest in good day care and working with childcare providers in privately operated centers.
In the 1970s, with the advent of federal funding, WCDCA became a local catalyst for the development of state and federal funding for local services and became more of an umbrella agency, giving day care homes and centers a method to qualify for subsidy funding and encouraging uniform childcare standards.
In 1976, WCDCA became the local grantee for Head Start as well as a sponsor of family childcare homes to receive reimbursement from the USDA’s Child Care Food Program for meals served to children in care.
In 1980 the Wichita Child Day Care Association changed its name to Child Care Association of Wichita/Sedgwick County and began to help parents looking for childcare to find it (by hand, using a typewritten list of about 50 local childcare providers). In 1990, Child Care Association joined 15 agencies to establish a statewide association of Child Care Resource/Referral Agencies, aligning services and software to help parents statewide find childcare, and to train childcare providers.
In 1995, Child Care Association was one of only 68 organizations selected nationally to pilot the new Early Head Start program serving children 0-3 years and pregnant women. In 2006, the organization adopted a new name, Child Start, Inc., to better reflect the services it provides throughout several counties in south central Kansas.
Strategically adding and phasing out services based on community needs, Child Start continues to focus on early childhood development services that prepare children for lifelong success:
- serving young children and their families directly through Head Start and Early Head Start
- maintaining a database of local childcare providers for parents’ searches
- training and mentoring childcare providers so high quality care is available locally, and
- advocating for children and families, and for regulation that supports quality care.