TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced on Friday that the Kansas Children’s Cabinet will begin matching investments made by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) programs.

The DPIL is a nonprofit organization that mails over 1.8 million age-appropriate books each month to registered children from birth to age five. Dolly Parton’s mission is to create a lifelong love of reading in children and inspire them to dream. This flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation has gifted 184 million free books to children in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and Australia.

“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 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.”

The Kansas Children’s Cabinet has been working on expanding access to the DPIL since September of 2021. Since every family must be signed up through a local community program, enlisting nonprofits is essential. The program has seen an increase from 82 to 98 programs and added coverage in 65 additional zip codes. Kansas now has coverage across 91 counties out of 105. This funding is to 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.” 

The additional funding from the Kansas Children’s Cabinet is made possible by a line item to add $500,000 to the Children’s Initiative Fund included in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which the legislature passed.

To learn more about the DPIL, check availability in your area, and/or register a child, click here.