TOPEKA – Kansas Governor Sam Brownback on Friday announced Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Phyllis Gilmore, 72, will retire from the agency as of December 1, 2017.

Secretary Gilmore was appointed DCF Secretary on February 6, 2012. Her leadership transformed the department into an agency of opportunity—with the distinct mission of protecting children, promoting healthy families and encouraging personal responsibility.

“In the last six years, Kansas has reduced childhood poverty, helped more adults find self-reliance through employment, increased child support collections and empowered people with disabilities to find meaningful work,” Governor Brownback said.

“Those accomplishments can be directly attributed to the countless hours Phyllis devoted with single-minded focus on helping build strong families. I am thankful for her devotion and wish her the very best in the next chapter of her life,” the Governor said.

Secretary Gilmore will be taking this opportunity to spend more time with family, especially with her four grandchildren.

“When I was appointed as secretary of the agency, I made a commitment to serve Governor Sam Brownback on his vision for a brighter future for Kansas children and families,” said Secretary Gilmore. “I would like to thank Governor Brownback for giving me the opportunity to work tirelessly for the children and families of Kansas and to serve as a part of his Administration. It has truly been an honor and a privilege.”

As the second longest-serving social services secretary in state history, Secretary Gilmore led the way in overhauling the state’s welfare programs and the reforms she implemented in Kansas have become a nationwide model that other states have sought to replicate. These reforms, with their emphasis on self-reliance and empowering families, have reduced dependency and increased the incomes of those on cash assistance. Those efforts resulted in a nearly 78 percent drop in the number of Kansans on welfare.

During her tenure, Secretary Gilmore has also taken great strides in improving the lives of Kansas children. According to the Anne E. Casey Foundation’s 2017 Kids Count Report, the child poverty level in Kansas decreased by 26 percent, representing 35,000 fewer Kansas children in poverty. In addition, Kansas has one of the safest child welfare systems in the country, according to the Health and Human Services Federal Child and Family Services Review.

Some of the Secretary’s other accomplishments include:

  • Privatizing the state child support services, reducing operating costs by 32 percent and generating millions of dollars in savings to taxpayers.
  • Investing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars in poverty prevention programs, such as the Kansas Reading Roadmap and Jobs for America’s Graduates.
  • Empowering Kansans with disabilities to gain successful employment and helping them to realize their full potential, through programs such as End-Dependence and Pre-Employment Transition Services.
  • Focusing the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives division on building partnerships with community groups to further family foster care recruitment.
  • Directing Strategic Development to create a more robust and improved staff training.

Secretary Gilmore has also served on the subcabinet on Disability, and served as Chairwoman on the Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Childhood Poverty and on the Governor’s Social Services Policy Council.

“Together, with the Brownback Administration we have built a legacy that promotes independence, encourages personal responsibility and protects the children of Kansas that will endure for years to come,” Secretary Gilmore said.

A licensed clinical social worker with a master’s degree in social work, Secretary Gilmore earlier served as Executive Director of the Kansas Behavioral Science Regulatory Board for more than 11 years and was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from 1994-2000.