Agency Using Universal Infant Referral Policy Across Kansas
The Kansas Department for Children and Families is implementing a new policy designed to take a proactive approach to connecting Kansas families with important parent skill building programs. The Universal Infant Referral policy mandates child protection workers, when working with a family that has an infant under the age of one, refer the family to community-based infant-toddler and home visitor programs.
“We want to meet a family’s needs before crisis sets in,” Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard said. “Providing families with services and supports early may help prevent future maltreatment.”
The new policy took effect July 1 and is already connecting families with programs like Early Head Start, Parents as Teachers and Healthy Families America.
“We are already seeing positive outcomes from this new initiative,” Crawford County Healthy Families supervisor Lindsay Restivo said. “Recently we have been able to connect 16-year-old parents with much needed support services and education in Crawford County. During weekly home visits with our family support specialist, the parents will learn more about positive parent-child interaction, safe sleep and other important health information like the dangers of sudden infant death syndrome.”
The new policy also requires the child protection worker to assess the infant’s sleep environment using guidance from Safe Sleep Kansas. The worker provides the family information and resources to help support a safe sleep environment for the infant.
“It is important to me that Kansas families know that these services are available to them,” Howard said. “We know these programs can help children and families thrive and we are excited to facilitate these connections.”