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Dashboard Agency Initiatives

Under Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel’s leadership, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) has identified five goals that are a priority to the agency. We firmly believe that these goals will vastly improve the way we serve the children and families of Kansas. Some of the goals have tangible timelines and action steps, and others will be ongoing agency-wide efforts. Regardless, we think it is imperative to work on these top-five initiatives because we want to serve Kansans to the best of our ability.

Reworking and Awarding the Child Welfare Grants


Expected completion date: 12/31/2018

DCF is currently in the process of finalizing the child welfare contract Request for Proposal (RFPs). In the new RFPs, we will make smaller catchment areas and improve access to services for children and youth in care. Additionally, they will no longer be contracts, but grants because this will improve DCF oversight. Below you will see other items that will be included in the RFP:

 

  • Grantees will be rewarded for good outcomes
  • Fiscal responsibility from grantees
  • More timely adoptions
  • More oversight over grantees

 

We anticipate that the child welfare RFPs will be posted on 5/31/2018, and will be awarded 12/31/2018. The grants will not become active until 07/1/2019.

Improving the Front-End of the Child Welfare System (Ongoing Effort)


Since starting at the agency on Dec. 1, Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel has made it a top priority to conduct an internal top-to-bottom review of the agency. This review has included assessing the DCF Regions, reviewing cases, conducting interviews and evaluating policies, procedures and program effectiveness. Additionally, Secretary Meier-Hummel has met with multiple stakeholders across the state to gather constructive feedback. Simultaneously, DCF has been partnering with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy with expertise in child welfare, to conduct a thorough review on the front-end of our child welfare system. Annie E. Casey Foundation has been working with us in Kansas for several months and their review continues as they look at the Kansas Protection Report Center (KPRC) and our Assessment and Prevention Services. By the end of May 2018, the Annie E. Casey Foundation is expected to give preliminary recommendations to DCF Administration. After receiving recommendations, the agency will do the following:

  • Implement recommendations after careful consideration
  • Improve the Kansas Protection Report Center (KPRC)
  • Ensure investigations are being conducted correctly and timely
  • Improve prevention services
  • Implement comprehensive monitoring of the front-end of the child welfare system
  • Ensure policies and procedures are being applied, and determine whether other policies or procedures need to be changed

Increasing Transparency and Improving Agency Communication (Ongoing Effort)​


Secretary Meier-Hummel has made transparency a top priority at DCF since starting Dec. 1. While it is often a delicate balance between being open and forthright, and protecting client confidentiality, there have been significant improvements made in this area—including the recent signing of House Sub for Senate Bill 336, which allows the agency to immediately share a summary upon request, should a child die of child abuse or neglect or in the custody of the Secretary. Additionally, DCF would like to improve communication with community partners, stakeholders, sister agencies, legislators and providers. Part of this includes being active in the communities, volunteering in communities, working alongside community partners and purposefully demonstrating that we care about Kansans. DCF also believes that by changing the culture at the agency, and doing the right things for Kansas children and families, DCF's public image will ultimately improve. To do this, we will be more readily available to the public and publicly demonstrate the improvements and changes being made to our systems.

Recruitment and Retention of Staff (Ongoing Effort)


To serve the children and families of Kansas to the best of our ability, we must have the staff to do so.  We have already made a major step to recruit by implementing unlicensed child protection specialist positions. These individuals will have to have a four-year, similar degree, such as psychology, sociology, etc., and they will receive the same training as licensed protection specialists. Additionally, Secretary Meier-Hummel implemented the Secretary Suggestions Inbox, allowing staff to email her anonymously and directly. She has also changed the business attire policy to allow staff to wear jeans, when appropriate and emphasized that she is listening to staff. To further improve recruitment and retention we will be looking at doing the following:

 

  • Implement salary steps
  • Implement more flexibility in moving positions
  • Create succession steps for staff
  • Create salary steps for staff

We will also be doing the following:

 

  • Share positive staff stories
  • Improve internal communication with our staff
  • Research why some staff stay for years
  • Increase presence at career fairs
  • Further partnerships with universities
  • Continue to promote job openings on social media
  • Try to recruit more practicum students

The ultimate goal behind recruitment and retention is to lower the number of vacancies, especially in child protection services and to improve the overall culture at the agency, decreasing the amount of staff turnover.

​Improve Information Technology (IT)—Global Issues (Ongoing Effort)


DCF is the biggest user of State IT. We have several systems that are utilized to serve the children and families of Kansas. Unfortunately, our systems have not been updated for years, and therefore, are antiquated. Our antiquated systems are unable to share information across systems or program areas, and ultimately negatively impact our clients. Currently, child welfare staff have to access up to eight systems to pull information on one child. Having improved systems would dramatically affect how we serve families, but unfortunately, this cannot be done without sufficient funds. While there are not currently any action steps that can be taken to dramatically improve our current IT, we still believe it should be a top priority for our agency.