SHERIDAN — Wyoming legislators and agencies moved forward in the process to change the governance of the state’s early childhood education programs in an attempt to realize better services for children as well as more consistent standards and management across the state.

The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Education Committee voted Tuesday to move forward with the consolidation of the state’s early childhood programs under two departments, rather than the four currently involved.

The legislation, which was approved by the committee with an 11-2 vote, mirrors the recommendations developed by the Wyoming Early Childhood Governance Task Force and will still need to be considered by the Legislature as a whole. In its Dec. 14, 2020, report regarding its findings and recommendations, the task force reached a broad consensus that the state’s programs should be consolidated into the Department of Education and Department of Family Services.

Specifically, the changes would include moving Individuals with Disabilities Education Act functions and the Head Start Collaboration office into the Department of Education and the Quality Counts functions and leadership for home visitation moving to the Department of Family Services.

The recommendations outlined by the task force seek to do just that, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said it could be done without any additional fiscal appropriation.

The effort will, however, require cooperation and a transition period. Currently, the legislation puts the changes into place July 1, 2022, providing more than a year for the logistical shifts to happen. Legislators acknowledged, though, that the transition would likely continue beyond a year.

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