Updated: Oct 28, 2019
COLBY, Kan. – (Oct. 2019)
The University of Kansas Medical Center’s Project Eagle is the recipient of one of the18 awards granted by the Department of Health and Family Services (DCF). As part of the grant, KU Medical Center partnered with LiveWell Northwest Kansas. LiveWell, a health and early childhood advocacy organization located in Colby, will offer expanded programming services helping people cope with trauma and toxic stress.
In a press conference Tuesday, Oct. 1, Kansas governor Laura Kelly (D) and DCF Secretary Laura Howard announced a state-wide effort to help families with an end-goal of preventing the need for foster care. Project Eagle and LiveWell have been providing a nationally recognized trauma and toxic stress program, known as Attachment and Bio-Behavioral Catch-Up (ABC). This grant will allow the expansion of existing programs to benefit children at risk of placement in foster care.
Kelly explained funding for the Kansas-wide grant program is provided by the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) passed February 2018. It provides new federal funding for prevention activities, and services for children at imminent risk of placement in foster care as well as parents or kinship caregivers.
“From day one of my administration, I’ve made it clear that the safety and well-being of children in Kansas is my top priority,” exclaimed Kelly. “I am proud that Kansas, as one of the first states in the nation to implement Family First, has partnered with community organizations to support vulnerable families.”
LiveWell Director Travis Rickford says that in Colby and throughout northwest Kansas, LiveWell’s mission is to improve all aspects of the early childhood system and to optimize family well-being and the overall health of the community. He explained that the ABC program is one part of their mission and one part of the collective effort being realized throughout the state.
“ABC is a coach-led treatment approach for families who have experienced neglect, abuse, domestic violence and placement instability such as children at risk for entering the foster care system,” said Rickford. “The program provides parents, caregivers and kin with ability to overcome stress and trauma to better provide nurturing care and create lasting bond with kids.”
“We are pleased to partner with LiveWell to offer this program in northwest Kansas,” said Lisa London, director of Project Eagle at the KU Medical Center. “We have had great success with this program in the Kansas City area, and we were excited about this opportunity to make it available to more families in Kansas.”
Together, the ABC program and Family First will offer a unique opportunity to position Kansas as a leader in child welfare.
“(The Family First program) holds families together and prevents kids from entering foster care,” adds Tanya Keys, Kansas Department of Children and Families. “It will transform prevention efforts alongside families by connecting them to evidence-based programs in mental health, parent skill-building and substance use.”
“We are excited to be a partner of Project Eagle to expand the ABC program across northwest Kansas in its entirety,” added Rickford. “As we explore opportunities to address toxic stress and trauma in our communities, ABC has served as a proved method to make families happier and healthier, which in turn improves our ability to thrive as a community.”
The Kansas Department for Children and Families received 55 proposals for Family First prevention grant services; only 18 were approved for funding. The $13 million program will provide parents with skill building and kin navigator services in every county of Kansas, says Howard, in addition to services in substance use and mental health disorders offered in select counties.
Information on Project Eagle at the University of Kansas Medical Center can be found at projecteagle.org.
For information on LiveWell’s ABC program and other services offered locally, visit www.livewellnwk.org.
Information regarding the Family First program can be found at dct.ks.gov/services/PPS/Pages/FFPSA.aspx.