TOPEKA – In the first official gathering of a newly-formed council, Governor Sam Brownback met with several State agency heads and community leaders Wednesday, at Sporting Park in Kansas City, to discuss poverty and social issues affecting Kansans.
The Governor’s Social Services Policy Council (SSPC), established by Executive Order 15-01, on Feb. 17, gathered in the event center at the soccer stadium, at the conclusion of the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) summit. The council is tasked with advising the Governor on issues concerning social services policies and service delivery.
As host of the MGA summit, the Governor chose to focus the two-day event on poverty reduction. At the gathering of the SSPC, Brownback continued the discussion on poverty, saying he will seek recommendations from the council members on how to reduce the poverty rate and improve services provided to Kansans with the greatest needs.
“We heard some great ideas at MGA, and I think the group is ready to get moving on this issue,” Governor Brownback said. “There’s no single answer to poverty, so we have a lot of work to do, but I’m confident we’re on the right path.”
The Governor began the council meeting by asking the members what needs they are seeing and what they envision with the council’s collaboration.
The council is directed by executive order to meet at least twice per year and will receive ongoing staff support from the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF).
“Our agency is excited to engage with other agencies and community leaders to coordinate our efforts and find innovative ways to address poverty,” DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said. “Poverty is a serious issue in the state and we are encouraged by the enthusiasm from the council members to tackle this problem.
Gilmore is one of four cabinet-level agencies on the council. Also serving are Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Secretary Karri Bruffett, Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) Secretary Ray Roberts and Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary Susan Mosier.
Other members of the council include: Chuck Allen, Ward Cassidy, David Crum, Bev Eversmeyer, Barry Feaker, Joe Gardner, Lorie Johnson, Gina Meier-Hummel, Marcos Navarro, Denise Rhoades, Pat Terick and Treatha Brown-Foster.
Council member Chuck Allen, Kansas City, is optimistic about the work ahead. Allen is founder and director of The Urban Scholastic Center, Wyandotte county.
“The council is a great place to start this dialogue that it will take to bring about real change,” Allen said. “It’s going to take the whole community to really attack the problem of poverty, so it’s important to come together, and to have the give and take from different perspectives.”
The group identified two areas of focus for the next meeting: corrections and recidivism and family structure.
Presentation materials and future agendas will be posted on www.dcf.ks.gov/Newsroom/Pages/SSPC.aspx.