Kentucky has a coordinated system of early childhood governance with multiple cabinets overseeing and managing early childhood programs, strategies, and services. Under this structure, the Early Childhood Advisory Council, and its support office, the Kentucky's Governor's Office of Early Childhood serves as coordinating bodies for the Commonwealth.
Kentucky often is at the forefront of national innovation in early childhood governance and finance, starting over 20 years ago with the passage of House Bill 706 in 2000. At that time, it was the most comprehensive package of early childhood legislation in the nation and addressed the needs of the whole child: health care, family assistance, high-quality education, and community involvement. In addition, it committed 25-percent of the Kentucky Tobacco Settlement Fund, annually, to support early childhood programs. Kentucky was one of the first states to:
- Develop Early Childhood Standards
- Create an Office of Early Childhood
- Establish a consensus-driven definition of kindergarten readiness
- Implement a Kindergarten Readiness Screener
Kentucky also secured two large very competitive federal grants. None of this would be possible without its investment in early childhood education, strategic leadership, collaborative partnerships, or its commitment to early childhood education.
A more consolidated approach starts with visionary leadership. The Beshear administration has demonstrated its commitment to education and utilizes the experience and expertise of Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, a former Kentucky K-12 educator. Kentucky continues to build upon the original goals of the Kentucky Governor's Office of Early Childhood:
- Ensuring more children start strong
- Promoting greater collaboration between state and local communities
- Emphasizing quality and continuous improvement