In January 2011, Gov. Sam Brownback appointed Rob Siedlecki Secretary of SRS. Siedlecki came into office with prior experience of having worked as chief of staff in the Florida Department of Health, as well as the Administration for Children and Families under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (the federal equivalent of SRS) in Washington, D.C. Secretary Siedlecki brought fresh energy to the agency, immediately tackling fraud and abuse in SRS benefits programs. He implemented changes that increased the transparency and accountability of the agency, such as eliminating sole-source contracts, requiring that all agency contracts be awarded through a competitive bid process, and ensuring that individuals who sit on boards or committees that receive SRS money don’t play a part in directing those grants from the agency to their boards. In addition, he took steps to improve the way SRS delivers services to clients and streamlined the department’s business processes and eligibility determinations.
Following the departure of Secretary Siedlecki, who returned to his home state of Florida, Governor Brownback appointed former Kansas legislator and licensed social worker Phyllis Gilmore as SRS Secretary. Gilmore served 11 years as the executive director of the Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board, overseeing the licensure and regulation of most mental health professionals in Kansas. She represented a Johnson County district in the Kansas House from 1994 to 2000. A licensed clinical social worker, Secretary Gilmore holds a master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis.
On July 1, 2012 The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services became the Department for Children and Families (DCF). This transition marked the beginning of a new agency more centrally focused on the wellbeing of children and families in Kansas. The Disability and Behavioral Health Services division of SRS, as well as oversight of the five state hospitals moved to the newly named Department for Aging and Disability Services.
DCF retained its children and adult protection services, adoption services, foster care support, child support services, welfare and food assistance programs, as well as services dedicated to vocational rehabilitation, among others.
On Nov. 3, 2017, Secretary Gilmore announced her retirement with the agency after serving for almost six years. Following her departure, Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer appointed Gina Meier-Hummel on Nov. 22, 2017, to be the next secretary of DCF. Prior to serving the agency, she was the Executive Director of The Shelter, Inc., for two plus years. The Shelter is a nonprofit organization focused on crisis intervention for at-risk youth in Douglas County and Northeast Kansas. Before that, she worked as the Commissioner of Community Service and Programs for the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS). She also served at DCF as the Director of Children and Family Services in the Prevention and Protection Services (PPS) division, from 2011 to 2013.
Earlier in her career, Secretary Meier-Hummel worked 13 years at KVC Behavioral Healthcare, one of the state’s two current foster care contractors, in multiple roles and at the Department for Social and Rehabilitation Services (now DCF). She started her career conducting child protective service investigations.
With the new administration of Gov. Laura Kelly, Laura Howard was appointed as interim DCF/KDADS Secretary on Jan. 3, 2019. Howard was confirmed as Secretary for both agencies by the Kansas Senate on April 1, 2019.
Secretary Howard’s experience prior to being appointed as head of DCF and KDADS included more than 30 years of government and human service work. She previously worked as a special assistant, deputy secretary and chief of staff for the former Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. She also served as regional administrator for Region VII of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Most recently she served as the Director of the KU Public Management Center. Secretary Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration from Miami University and a law degree from the University of Kansas.
DCF Mission: To protect children, promote healthy families and encourage personal responsibility.
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