Kansas Awards First Round of Grants for Family First Act Prevention Services

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) presents grant awards to several service providers to offer services under the Family First Act. Photo courtesy of Kansas Department of Children and Family Services.

Yesterday, as a new federal overhaul of child welfare financing went into effect, the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF) awarded $13.5 million to help carry out efforts to prevent the use of foster care in some child welfare cases.

Eighteen grants were announced for several service providers under the Family First Prevention Services Act, which passed in 2018 and mostly took effect on October 1. The funds include a grant evaluator that will research the impact of Family First’s implementation in the state.

“I’ve always been a big advocate of prevention and I think the ability to infuse this in our child welfare system is just really fantastic,” said DCF Secretary Laura Howard, at an announcement broadcast live on the agency’s Facebook page.

One of the major Family First provisions amends the Title IV-E entitlement, previously reserved for foster care and adoption services, to help states pay for services that could keep families in crisis together. The new IV-E prevention services are limited to evidence-based models in the realm of mental health, substance abuse and parenting.

The law also opens up matching funds for kinship navigators, programs that connect relative caregivers to resources and supports in the community.

This first round of statewide grants will focus on in-home parenting services and kinship navigators, Howard said, with regional grants for mental health and substance abuse services.

Each state must obtain approval of a IV-E Prevention plan in order to start drawing in federal dollars, and Kansas has submitted its plan, according to DCF spokesperson Eric Smith. These grants are made with the expectation that the cost will be partially offset with federal IV-E dollars once the state is approved.

More than 55 providers applied for the grant. Following is a list of the providers selected in this round:

Substance Use Disorder Services

  • DCCCA for Adolescent-Community Reinforcement Approach for outpatient treatment intervention for youth 12-18 with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders in Crawford County.
  • Kansas Children’s Service League for Parent-Child Assistance Program in Shawnee County for pregnant women or parents with children younger than 1 who are using substances. Services are provided in the home and participants are linked to services in the community.
  • St. Francis Ministries for its Seeking Safety program that targets parents and caregivers with adolescents and children 0-3 and pregnant and parenting foster youth who are at risk of being removed from the home because of substance use in Sedgwick County and five other Western counties.

Mental Health Services

  • Community Solutions Inc. for Multi-systemic Therapy program in targeted counties in all DCF regions. It’s an intensive home-based model for youth ages 12-17 at risk of or engaging in delinquent behavior, substance misuse or who have mental health issues.
  • Cornerstones of Care for short-term, in-home Functional Family Therapy for at-risk youth 11-18 referred for behavioral health services in all Kansas City region counties.
  • Horizon Mental Health Center for Parent-Child Interaction Therapy in Reno, Barber, Harper, Cayman and Pratt counties for children ages 2-7 and their caregivers.
  • St. Francis Ministries for Family-Centered Treatment for intensive, in-home treatment to prevent children ages 0-17 from being removed from the home for all counties in Wichita and West regions.
  • TFI’s Grow Nurturing Families program that uses Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for families with children ages 2-7 in targeted counties in the East, Wichita and West regions.

Kinship Services

  • Kansas Legal Services will operate the KinTech program across the state providing legal advice, representation and mediation services for guardianship, adoption and family law issues to more than 400 families.

Parent Skill Building Services

  • Child Advocacy and Parenting Services will provide the Family Mentoring Program for families with children 0-17 in Saline and Ottawa counties using the nurturing parenting curriculum.
  • FosterAdopt Connect Inc. is offering the fostering prevention program in Wyndotte and Johnson counties that provides intense in-home parenting education using the nurturing parenting curriculum for parents of children ages 6-16.
  • Great Circle for home visiting Healthy Families America program for new and expecting families of children at-risk for maltreatment or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in East and Kansas City regions.
  • Kansas Children’s Service League to implement the Healthy Families America program in Sedgwick County and counties in the East region.
  • Success by 6 to implement the Healthy Families America program in Douglas County.
  • Kansas Parents as Teachers Association to support home visiting parent education activities across the state.
  • University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute Project Eagle was awarded for a 10-week Attachment and Bio-Behavioral Catch-Up program for children ages 6 months to 48 months old who experience early maltreatment or disruption in the Kansas City region and 18 counties in the West region.

The University of Kansas Center for Research will perform an evaluation of Family First Act implementation. They will evaluate and analyze the engagement of services, child well-being, safety and permanency. The agency will convene regional and statewide advisory teams.

Gov. Laura Kelly (D) congratulated the awardees during the live broadcast.

“This is truly an amazing group,” Kelly said. “I’ve been around the legislature and state house for a number of years now. I remember when Kansas was actually recognized as perhaps having one of the best child welfare and mental health systems in the country. I think we’re on our way back there.”

Kansas is among a group of 14 child welfare systems implementing Family First this year. Most states have elected to seek a delay of up to two years to prepare for another provision in the law – the limitation of federal IV-E funds to pay for group homes and other congregate care settings.

Note: This article was updated on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

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