WICHITA—As part of a multi-agency effort to connect Kansas families to support networks and services, Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard today announced a new collaboration with the Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department.

"DCF and Wichita area law enforcement have a long history of working collaboratively at the Exploited and Missing Children’s Unit," Howard said. "This new approach expands our partnership by supporting families in an effort to prevent children and families from entering the child welfare system."

Through an agreement reached between the three agencies, DCF is funding three community support specialist case manager positions. The Wichita Police Department employs two of the positions and the third is employed by the Sedgwick County Sheriff.

The specialists visit a family’s home when law enforcement identifies the home environment as in crisis or in need of support services. The specialists can make referrals to community-based services for parent skill building, home visiting, mental health services and substance use services. The workers also can connect families with education on safe sleep, parental peer support, public health and school district program support.

"DCF and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office entered into an agreement at the end of 2019 to have a community support specialist embedded into the Sheriff’s Office," Sheriff Jeffrey Easter said. "We are already seeing positive results for the community due to the work the community support specialist is doing. We appreciate the collaborative effort with DCF to help families and in keeping kids safe."

Additionally, law enforcement supervisors now have access to DCF’s child abuse and neglect information system known as KIPS. This arrangement provide important child welfare information to officers when responding to calls involving children and families.

Funding for the partnership comes from federal child abuse and neglect prevention programs.