Governor Kelly Announces Nearly $10M to Organizations Focused on Empowering Kansas Children and Families
TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly announced today that the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) awarded the final round of Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Community Capacity Grants. Nearly $10 million was granted to five organizations focused on coordinating services to meet essential health, housing, educational, and nutrition needs; expanding educational, health, and financial empowerment programs; increasing training for Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers; and expanding services for Kansas children and families.
“It is vital that Kansas children and their families receive essential physical and mental health services, housing, nutrition, educational and advocacy services throughout the state,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “These grants will ensure that children and families have access to the supports necessary for success.”
“At DCF, we believe that communities bring strength through relationships and resources,” said DCF Secretary Laura Howard. “These organizations are doing just that by offering children and families opportunities to learn and coordinate health, housing, and nutritional services available through state and local resources.”
The grants are effective Oct. 1, 2023. They include:
The $7,700,000 in funding will provide software and implementation services for three years to provide DCF users and users from other Kansas agencies, county governments, and health care providers with closed-loop referrals to community-based organizations to help address a client’s social care needs.
Closed-loop is defined as the ability for authorized users to:
- Receive notification of incoming social care requests or referrals.
- Securely access relevant social care information regarding the social needs and care journey of individuals they serve, with their documented consent and consistent with applicable law.
- Communicate with referring organizations.
- Send social care referrals on behalf of the individual, track and store the outcome of that referral, and track and store the outcome of services delivered within a single client record.
Community Green Farms:
The two-year, $1,052,000 grant will be used to implement Community Green Farms’ Farm to School initiative in schools located in Allen, Anderson, Bourbon, Labette, Linn, Montgomery, and Wilson counties. This initiative includes constructing a vertical hydroponic farm classroom to grow hyper-organic produce that can be consumed in their cafeteria and provided to hunger relief programs. Schools will be able to provide their students with more nutritious foods, and the farms will also provide classrooms that can be used in a variety of curriculum such as health and nutrition, culinary arts, marketing and business, agriculture, and botany.
Children’s First will use its nearly $600,000, one-year grant to renovate and convert the Woodland United Methodist Church (WUMC) in Wichita to become a Community Center. Children’s First and WUMC will create a multi-purpose Community Center using currently under-utilized rooms at the church to provide workspace and services Monday through Friday and special events on weekends. Through full use of the rooms, there will be an expansion and enhancement of educational, health, and financial empowerment programs for the benefit of under-resourced Wichita residents. The Community Center will also provide office and event space for other Wichita-area nonprofits that share this vision.
Kansas CASA Association:
The more than $375,000 in funding will increase statewide knowledge of the CASA mission, attract potential CASA volunteers, staff, and board members, reach those in need of advocacy services, and streamline access to advocacy services. This is a two-year grant.
CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties:
CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties (CASAJWC) will receive a two-year grant of $125,000 to support an improved volunteer experience by renovating their training space to allow for improved and expanded training capacity. This will include both in-person and virtual training options. The project will enable staff, peer mentors, advocates, and those they work with to interact regardless of their location and provide a higher-level training experience.