(The Center Square) – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has announced new funding for a grant program hoping to keep children from entering the foster care system.
Kelly announced nearly $20 million in funding for Family First Prevention grants Wednesday. Kelly’s office says the state’s Family First Prevention programs have helped more than 3,000 Kansas children stay with their families while avoiding entry into the foster care system.
“Family First programs have been proven to keep families together, improve outcomes for our children in the long run, and save government money down the road. They have contributed to a nearly 20 percent decline in the total number of foster children since the beginning of my administration,” Governor Kelly said in a press release issued by his office. “That’s why we’ve been working across the aisle to direct state and federal funding to the expansion of these successful programs.”
Kansas was among the first states to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act in 2019.
It is a federal law that allows states to direct federal funds to foster care programs aimed at prevention. These programs strive to keep families together instead of putting children into the foster care system.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) has invested these funds in “mental health care; development of parenting skills; prevention of substance use; and assistance for family members who serve as primary caregivers for nieces, nephews and nieces,” according to the governor’s office press release.
The new grants aim to do the following, according to the governor’s office:
Expand the number of vendors from 11 to 14
Expand an intensive mental health program called multisystem therapy statewide
Fund new services for substance use disorder
Fund new partners for parenting skills development
Include new primary prevention programs, including a partnership with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department
Kansas DCF Secretary Laura Howard praised the newly available grant funding and said the program has been successful in recent years.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the work DCF and our partner agencies have done on behalf of Kansas families,” said Howard. “We know that Family First programs are a primary factor in the overall reduction of foster care children in Kansas, with nearly 90 percent of children receiving services staying at home with their families without needing foster care.”