Kathleen Sebelius’ Early Childhood Education Record


“Health” is right there in the name of the Department of Health and Human Services so naturally most attention on Kathleen Sebelius’ appointment to head up HHS has focused on the implications for health care reform. But there are also the human services! In particular, Sara Mead points out that “as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sebelius will be in charge of the federal government’s biggest early childhood programs–Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant.” Consequently, it might be useful to know a little something about her record on these issues:

Less well-known is Sebelius’ strong record of support for early education. Kansas isn’t the first state that comes to mind when we think of early education: It ranks only 19th among the states in pre-K access for 4-year-olds, and also gets less than stellar ratings on the quality of its early childood programs. But under Sebelius’ leadership, the state has made substantial strides in improving access to early education. As Governor, Sebelius has worked to increase the state’s investments in young children, proposing funding increases for early childhood programs in each of the past four fiscal years, establishing new Pre-K Pilot and Early Childhood Block Grant programs, and increasing the state’s annual early childhood investment to more than $36 million.

Nothing in there’s especially visionary, but Kansas was starting from a low baseline point so deploying some of the standard tools was a pretty appropriate policy, and it’s good to see someone with a commitment to work in this area.