Takeaway: Kansas has, compared to other states, low requirements for a facility to be licensed as a child care center. Distinctions between preschool types vary primarily based on size; center-based care is for groups of 13 or more. In an effort to improve the quality of teaching, the state now allows individuals who are licensed to teach kindergarten to become preschool instructors, as well.
Kansas has very basic standards for preschool licensing. The state’s database search is simple: There are filters for county and program type. Search results display licensing details, contact information, and capacity.
Kansas has been offering a pilot public pre-K program for nine years. The state currently pays for half-day kindergarten, but there has been a legislative push for a public all-day program. In addition, the state now allows kindergarten teachers to teach preschool, and vice versa.
Child care centers are for groups of 13 or more children receiving care for more than three hours a day. Children are eligible starting at 2 weeks of age. Staff must be first-aid trained and CPR-certified, and they must “have an understanding of children.” Kansas has a separate category for “preschools,” which are licensed centers for children at least 30 months old and not yet kindergarten-eligible. This grouping includes education preschools, Montessori schools, nursery schools, and church-sponsored schools. Sessions cannot be more than three hours, and qualified staff members are required to be present at all times. Required caregiver-to-child ratios vary by child age. For infants ages 2 weeks to 12 months, the required ratio is 1:3, with a maximum number of nine children. For a mixed-age group of children up to 6 years old, the required ratio is 1:4 (with a maximum of two infants per four children), and a maximum of eight children. For children ages 12 months to 2.5 years who can walk unaided, the required ratio is 1:5, with a maximum number of ten children. For 2- and 3-year-olds, the required ratio is 1:7, with a maximum group size of 14. For a mixed-age group of children ages 2.5 years to school age, the required ratio is 1:10, with a maximum group size of 20. For a mixed-age group of children ages 3 to school age, the required ratio is 1:12, with a maximum group size of 24.
Kansas has two types of licensed family care that are differentiated by group size: Licensed day care homes have a maximum of ten children, and group day care homes have a maximum size of 12 children. The required caregiver-to-child ratios also vary by facility type and child age. For licensed day care homes with a single provider, there can be up to ten children, provided that zero are under 18 months, up to seven are 18 months to 5 years old, and three (or more) are between the ages of 5 and 11; or provided that just one child is under 18 months, up to five are 18 months to 5 years old, and four (or more) are between ages 5 and 11. The capacity reduces to nine children if two are under 18 months, up to four between 18 months and 5 years old, and three (or more) between ages 5 and 11. And it reduces to eight if there are three children under 18 months, with up to three more between the ages of 18 months and 5 years old, with two (or more) between ages 5 and 11 permitted. For group day care homes, the licensed family care numbers apply, but there are additional options, as well. A single provider in this setting may also care for up to nine children between the ages of 2.5 and 11, up to ten children between the ages of 3 and 11, and up to 12 children between the ages of 5 and 11. If two providers are present, up to 12 children may be cared for, provided that the distribution of children under 18 months, children between 18 months and 5 years old, and children ages 5 to 11 are one of the following: one, eight, and three, respectively; two, seven, and three, respectively; or three, six, and three, respectively. Up to ten children may be cared for if four are under 18 months, up to four are between 18 months and 5 years old, and two (or more) are between the ages of 5 and 11. In both types of home-based programs, children under 11 years of age must be related to the provider. These programs usually takes place in a given provider’s home, but they may take place elsewhere as long as the alternate location is approved by the state.
Preschool programs may, in certain instances, legally operate without a license — namely, if care is being provided to two children or fewer, or if a program is otherwise license-exempt. A program is considered license-exempt if the provider is a friend, relative, or neighbor, or if the care takes place in the child’s home.
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