Judd Weil-News Director judd,email@example.com
Governor Laura Kelly recently announced the Kansas Children’s Cabinet will begin matching dollar-for-dollar investments made by local Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) programs to accelerate efforts to promote a love of reading in every Kansas child.
This additional funding is made possible by a line item to add $500,000 to the Children’s Initiatives Fund the Governor included in her proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which the legislature passed.
Kansas children who participate in the DPIL program will have an age-appropriate book mailed to them from birth until they turn five years old. The goal of this additional funding is to increase the number of children signed up and expand the reach of local contributions.
Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has become the preeminent early childhood book gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has gifted well over 182 million free books in the U.S., Canada, UK, the Republic of Ireland, and Australia.
The Imagination Library mails more than 1.8 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly Parton envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring them to dream.
The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
“We know that one of the most important factors for early childhood learning and development is an early introduction to books and being read to at home,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “Kansas community organizations currently connect more than 42,500 children with the gift of books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library each month. This new funding will enable the program to reach even more Kansas children.”
Since Sept. 2021, the Kansas Children’s Cabinet has been working to expand access to DPIL to every child under five years old throughout Kansas, no matter their family’s income level or background.
Since every family must be signed up through a local community program, enlisting nonprofits to participate is essential. Efforts to date have resulted in an increase from 82 to 98 community programs, adding coverage in 65 additional zip codes across a total of 91 counties.
The additional funding will help cultivate even more local community programs.
“As a father, I know the joy that comes from reading with your child,” said State Representative Troy Waymaster. “Shortly after our son was born, we enrolled him in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. All children in the state of Kansas should have the ability to participate in this program as well. I am committed to helping ensure that all children in the state of Kansas, from ages zero to five, will have this opportunity.”