Gov. Kelly restructures Kansas human services agencies

January 2020 · Ministry News

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, announced a significant restructure of three Kansas state human services agencies, aligning their focus on enhancing community collaboration and prevention services.

The new agency will be the Kansas Department of Human Services, Kelly said in a Facebook livestreamed announcement, and will encompass the Department for Children and Families, the Department for Aging and Disability Services, and the juvenile services division currently housed at the Department of Corrections.

“From the beginning of my administration, I’ve made it clear that one of my top priorities is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Kansas children and families,” Kelly said. “Creating this new agency provides us the opportunity to strengthen families and support individuals by focusing on prevention, delivering enhanced services and forging stronger connections with our community partners.”

Kelly, and Sec. Laura Howard, who will head the new agency, both said the Human Services department will create single points of entry for Kansans who need access to services in related areas, including child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health and economic supports.

“We applaud Gov. Kelly’s leadership to form a new department that will focus holistically on the needs of children and families,” said Rachel Marsh, Saint Francis Ministries vice president of advocacy. “We especially appreciate that the new agency will be able to work collaboratively on the needs of crossover youth, and those youth with complex mental health, child welfare and juvenile justice needs.”

Sec. Laura Howard speaks about the new Kansas Department of Human Services, announced Jan. 8, 2020, by Gov. Laura Kelly.

Howard assured Kansans that the new agency will not take a “business as usual mentality.”

“It’s not  just a matter of moving programs from one agency to another,” she said. “It’s about creating a modern human services agency for the century that we’re in, with the systems that we have and the opportunities that we have really to enhance prevention, enhance community collaborations.”

As an organization, Saint Francis is pleased to see the continued focus on community collaborations, interagency coordination and prevention, said The Very Rev. Robert N. Smith, Saint Francis dean, president and CEO.

“Working together strengthens each of these agencies as we all have one primary focus, and that is changing the future and providing supports for Kansas children and families,” he said.

“The combination of these services in a new agency really gives us an opportunity to think differently about service delivery,” Howard said. “We want Kansans to have seamless access to services and programs to allow them to thrive.”

The new agency will be in place July 1, 2020.