Category Archives: Kansas

Peer Support For Families With Special Needs Children


Supporting You launches, families who can offer support and guidance asked to volunteer


TOPEKA – Families of children with special needs benefit from the care and support that can only be offered by others who have shared their experience. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Special Health Services Family Advisory Council (SHS-FAC) announce a new peer-support initiative in Kansas that will enable individuals and families who have similar experiences to communicate and gain support from one another, by sharing ideas, resources and strategies to meet the needs of their children.


“The program offers participants the opportunity to express their grief, concerns, and questions, without feeling judged,” said Heather Smith, KDHE Special Health Services Director. “We know that peer support is one of the strongest measures of individual/family support.”


Implementation of the network will occur in three phases, Support Peer Recruitment, Support Peer Training, and Peer Matching. We are actively recruiting Support Peers—those who have navigated various service systems, have experience with advocating for a loved one or themselves and have learned lessons that can be shared with others. It does not take specialized training, specific experience with services or systems, or any kind of degree to be a Support Peer. It simply takes a caring individual who has a desire to help others and shares experiences with caring for a child with special health care needs.


In the next phase, Support Peers will provide training on confidentiality, communication, active listening and helping families who are dealing with loss, grief or fear. Training will take place in-person and online through November and December. The final phase, Peer Matching, will take place in early 2019, and begin matching those looking for supports with the trained Support Peers recruited.


Two existing programs are part of the initial launch, the Kansas Special Health Care Needs program and the Kansas School for the Deaf, to connect families of children served through these programs with peer supports.


Supporting You will be administered by KDHE’s Special Health Services Section, within the Bureau of Family Health. The network has been developed by the SHS-FAC, which will provide oversight to monitor consistent practices and fidelity among partnering organizations, ultimately ensuring that participating programs are meeting the needs of the families served through the network.


More information can be found on the Supporting You website at or by contacting Heather Smith, Special Health Services Director, at 785-296-4747 or


Flags At Half-Staff Oct. 7

Governor Jeff Colyer orders flags flown at half-staff on

Sunday, Oct. 7 in honor of National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day


Topeka – In accordance with Executive Order 10-12, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff from sun-up to sun-down on Sunday, Oct. 7 in honor of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Day.


“Firefighters perform acts of heroism each day, some of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our communities,” said Governor Colyer. “We owe them our gratitude, our respect, our remembrance.”


On Oct. 16, 2001, President George W. Bush approved legislation requiring the American flag to be lowered to half-staff on all federal buildings to memorialize fallen firefighters in conjunction with the annual observance of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service held each year in Emmitsburg, Maryland.


To receive email alerts when the Governor orders flags to half-staff, please visit to subscribe.


State of Kansas Raises Awareness of Stillbirths


Recently-launched Count the Kicks program seeing early success


TOPEKA – More than 200 babies are stillborn each year in Kansas.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is committed to helping families prevent this tragedy, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), puts families at greater risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, loss of productivity and makes them four times more likely to get divorced.

Governor Jeff Colyer has designated October as Stillbirth Awareness Month. The annual awareness campaign comes just after the launch of a new initiative in Kansas to prevent stillbirths, called Count the Kicks.


“We are partnering with health care providers, midwives and doulas, county health departments, birthing hospitals, community groups and others to ensure that all women know the importance of counting their baby’s movements daily in the third trimester,” said KDHE Secretary Jeff Andersen. Throughout October KDHE and partners will be honoring Stillbirth Awareness Month by talking about our efforts to prevent loss due to stillbirth with the Count the Kicks campaign.”


Count the Kicks is a proven stillbirth prevention public health campaign that empowers expectant parents to track their baby’s movements in the third trimester and has the potential to save 60 babies every year.

The campaign encourages families to contact a physician if they notice a reduction in fetal movement, so medical attention can be sought before it’s too late.


The Kansas Count the Kicks campaign was launched in August and has proven to be impactful. More than 100 orders for materials have been submitted; more than 1,000 Kansans have visited the Count the Kicks website; more than 100 Kansans have “liked” Count the Kicks on Facebook; and more than 350 Kansas moms have downloaded the free Count the Kicks app to track movements.

Through KDHE, providers can order FREE Count the Kicks educational materials at and start using these materials in their practices right away. Moms everywhere can download the FREE Count the Kicks app, which is available in the Google Play and iTunes online stores. The app, available in English and Spanish, allows expectant moms to monitor their babies’ movement, record the history, set a daily reminder, count for single babies and twins.

The Kansas Count the Kicks campaign is supported by KDHE with funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under grant number #B04MC31488 and title Maternal and Child Health Services.




Governor Names Three to Kansas Board of Regents



Topeka – Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. Thursday appointed two new members and reappointed one member to the Kansas Board of Regents. William Feuerborn, Garnett, has been reappointed, and Allen Schmidt, Hays; and Mark Hutton, Wichita will be the newest members of the Board. Each will serve a four-year term, pending Senate confirmation, expiring June 30, 2022.


“Our higher education institutions play an important role in educating the next generation, which keeps our workforce and economy strong. The Regents ensure that the future of our state remains bright and prosperous by keeping our higher education system on track to meet these long-term goals,” said Gov. Jeff Colyer. “Bill, Allen, and Mark bring a great amount of experience and talent to the board and I am excited they’ve agreed to serve our great state.”


The nine-member Kansas Board of Regents is appointed by the governor.  It is the governing board of the six state universities and the statewide coordinating board for the state’s 32 public higher education institutions (six state universities, one municipal university, 19 community colleges, and six technical colleges).

  • William Feuerborn was born in Garnett, Kansas and has served on the Board of Regents since 2014. He has spent the last forty years in small business development and ranching. He also served as a State Representative in the Kansas legislature from 1994 to 2012. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Pittsburg State University.

  • Allen Schmidt is a retired U.S. Army Colonel from Hays, Kansas where he works as the Director for Development Services of Northwest Kansas. Schmidt served as a State Senator in the Kansas legislature from 2011 to 2013. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kansas, Master’s Degree in Psychology from Fort Hays State University and a Master of Science degree from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA.

  • Mark Hutton is from Wichita, KS where he was the CEO of Hutton Construction Corporation. Hutton served as a State Representative in the Kansas Legislature from 2013 to 2017. He is a graduate of Kansas State University in Manhattan, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering.

“I’m excited to welcome Allen and Mark to the Board and congratulate Bill on his reappointment,” said KBOR Chair Dennis Mullin. “It’s an honor to serve our fellow Kansans in this capacity. I look forward to working with our newest Regents to support families, businesses and the Kansas economy through our higher education system.”


The Board also administers the state’s student financial aid, the Kan-ed network, adult education, GED, career and technical education programs, and the state university retirement plans. In addition, members of the Board are also responsible for approving private proprietary schools and out-of-state institutions to operate in Kansas.


Addressing Substance Abuse Disorders In Kansas

Governor Colyer Organizes Statewide Coordinated Opioid Response

Dr. Greg Lakin to serve as Substance Use Disorder Central Authority


TOPEKA – In response to the estimated $30 million dollars in grants being awarded to several state agencies in Kansas from the Federal government for use in battling opioid and substance use disorders, Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. today announced his coordinated effort to ensure those funds are targeted toward addressing the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders in Kansas.


“The timing couldn’t be better for this funding to reach our state,” said Governor Colyer. “The health of Kansans takes top priority, and with the misuse of opioids threatening the health of many in our state, I am determined that we target these grants specifically toward efforts that will hit the problem head-on and stem the tide of addiction and death from abusing opioids and other harmful substances.”

Governor Colyer has asked state agencies receiving this money to identify specific ways that it can be used toward this effort. Already, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) have identified several specific ways to use these new funds. (See attachments).


“Effective treatment is so important to overcoming opioid addiction,” said KDADS Secretary Tim Keck. “We are committed to working with our State and community partners to target our resources to effective programs and services for this and other substance issues.”


To keep the effort organized and centralized, Gov. Colyer has designated Dr. Greg Lakin as the State’s Central Authority on Substance Use. This action was one of the recommendations made by the Governor’s Substance Use Disorder Task Force organized by Gov. Colyer earlier this year. In this role, Lakin will be responsible for coordinating relevant State agencies and their response to substance use issues, such as the opioid epidemic. Dr. Lakin currently serves as the State’s Chief Health Officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and chaired the Governor’s Substance Use Disorder Task Force this year. He also serves on the Kansas Prescription Drug and Opioid Advisory Committee.


“We have an opportunity to help people struggling with addiction,” Dr. Lakin said. “By working together on this issue on a statewide and individual level, we will see successful outcomes. It will take the combined efforts of State agencies, stakeholders and communities. I appreciate the Governor allowing me to lead this crucial effort.”

One of Dr. Lakin’s patients shared her experience about the importance of support and coordinated services. Mandi Sims, Salina, suffered numerous injuries during a motor vehicle accident as a teenager. Following a reconstructive surgery, she was prescribed medication for the pain. She says after only a few weeks, she had developed an addiction that ultimately led to a prison sentence and the removal of her children from her care. While pregnant with her fourth child, she consulted with Dr. Lakin and believes her substance use is now behind her. Her children have since been reintegrated into her home, and she has stable employment.

“He literally saved my life,” Sims said. “I have been through so much because of addiction. I am very grateful to everyone who is dedicated to ending this epidemic. Addiction takes away so much, but with the help and support of well-intentioned and caring health professionals, you can get your life back.”

KDHE indicates that 326 Kansans died of a drug overdose in 2017, 36% involved a prescription opioid drug or substance (e.g., hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, etc), 23% involved a psychostimulant (e.g., methamphetamine), and 7% involved heroin. Although Kansas is below the national average for fatal opioid overdoses, the opioid crisis is an emerging threat that remains a challenge for the state to address, including the rise in drug overdoses due to psychostimulant drugs. Increases in opioid-related drug misuse and deaths parallel the increase in prescription and illicit opioid availability.

Learn more about substance use disorders in our state, at

Westar Rate Decrease

Governor Colyer Responds to Westar Rate Decrease


Topeka – Governor Jeff Colyer M.D. thanked the Kansas Corporation Commission today for their unanimous decision to order pass along savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) bill to Westar electric customers.


Earlier this year, Governor Colyer sent a letter to Kansas utility companies urging them to ensure that ratepayers saw a decrease in their utility bills from the tax cuts given to utility companies by the Federal Government. The settlement was unanimously approved today by the Kansas Corporation Commission for Westar customers to receive a reduction to their electric rates of $66 million dollars annually. That is the equivalent of approximately $3.80 per month for the average residential customer. In addition, Westar has agreed to provide a one-time credit of $50 million to customers representing the tax savings received by the company since the beginning of 2018 due to the TCJA.


“I am pleased that Westar and the KCC have settled on a rate decrease that passes savings on to our hard-working Kansans,” said Governor Colyer. “This action will allow businesses and families to stretch their dollars further thanks to actual savings on their monthly utility bills.”

Kansas City Power and Light, Kansas Gas Service, and other utility companies also have rate cases currently before the KCC that will consider the impact of the tax cuts to customer rates. An order regarding these companies’ utility rates will be issued by the KCC over the next several months.

Personal Income in Kansas Continues to Rise


TOPEKA, KS –Governor Jeff Colyer M.D. on Wednesday highlighted a report that shows Kansas personal income rose significantly in the second quarter.

The report, released yesterday from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, showed Kansas wages increased by 4.7 percent, leading the seven states Plains Region.  Earnings increased by 6 percent in Kansas industries such as agriculture and professional business services. This increase puts Kansas at the 10th fastest income growth in the nation during the second quarter.

“It’s great to see Kansans taking home bigger paychecks as our economy continues to improve,” said Governor Colyer, “We have been hard at work in Kansas trying to attract higher value jobs to our state in order to grow our economy, and we are delighted to see earnings on the rise as a result of businesses investing more in our state.”

The full report can be found at the following link:

Lowered Flags for Sheriff Deputy

Governor Jeff Colyer orders flags flown at half-staff in honor of Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Kunze


Topeka – In accordance with Executive Order 10-12, Governor Jeff Colyer has ordered flags in Sedgwick County to be flown at half-staff beginning immediately at the request of Sedgwick County officials, until sundown tomorrow, September 18, 2018, in honor of Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Kunze who was killed in the line of duty on Sunday.


In addition, as is customary, Governor Colyer will be ordering flags to be flown half-staff statewide from sun up to sun down on the day of Deputy Kunze’s funeral, details of which will be announced at a future time.


“My deepest condolences to the family of Deputy Robert Kunze, who lost his life yesterday in the line of duty,” said Gov. Colyer. “We honor him for his bravery and send our thoughts and prayers to all his fellow deputies during this difficult time.”

To receive email alerts when the Governor orders flags to half-staff, please visit


Teaching Career Offered to Military Service Members


Kansas is one of six new states to be awarded a grant by Troops to Teachers, a military transition program within the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support that assists U.S. service veterans looking to start a teaching career.

“This grant is another great resource to assist service members interested in becoming a teacher in Kansas,” said Steve Harmon, Education Services Office, Kansas National Guard. “We encourage qualified service members to explore this career opportunity.”

Alabama, Michigan and Ohio Were also awarded grants along with two consortia comprised of New Jersey and Delaware, and Missouri and Iowa. The 2018 grants received will provide services for a five-year term ending in May 2023.

With TTT state grants, local state education departments and agencies are able to assist military members, veterans and TTT participants with local counseling and guidance. These local offices become the frontline for certification and hiring information, resources, and technical assistance on meeting teacher requirements related to each individual state.

Registration for the program is free and requires no commitment. Members can register via the program website, The website also offers a list of teaching opportunities available to participants and a calendar of events listing recruiting and other types of program events. Headquarters TTT program reps also can be reached by calling 1-800-231-6242 or by emailing

Telephone/Broadband Available to Low-Income Kansans

Lifeline Awareness Week promotes telephone and broadband resources available to help low-income Kansans stay connected

Topeka Access to local emergency services and community resources is vital to all residents. Lifeline offers discounts to help low-income consumers connect to the nation’s voice and broadband networks, find jobs, access health care services, connect with family, and call for help in an emergency.


The Kansas Corporation Commission wants to create awareness of the Lifeline program during National Lifeline Awareness week, September 10-14. Under the federal Lifeline Program, low-income consumers can receive up to $9.25 per month off their monthly bill for phone, broadband, or bundled phone and broadband service.  Some may also be eligible for the state Lifeline program that provides an additional $7.77 monthly discount. Forty-eight companies currently offer Lifeline services in Kansas.

Residents enrolled in any of the following assistance programs are eligible: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FHPA), Veterans Pension & Survivors Pension Benefit, Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribally Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Head Start Tribal Programs (only those meeting its income qualifying standard), the Food Distribution Program on Tribal Lands.  Those at 135% of the federal poverty level also qualify. Participants must provide three consecutive months of statements as documentation of income, or provide a copy of their tax return for the previous year. Recertification is required each year.

Since 1985, the federal Lifeline program has provided a discount on phone service for qualifying consumers. In 2016, the program was extended to include broadband.

More information on program eligibility, enrollment and annual recertification is available on the KCC’s website: For a list of Kansas providers, go to

Governor Updates Drought Declarations in Kansas Counties

The Governor’s Drought Team examines recent rains and drought conditions


Topeka – Recent rains for many areas of the state have led to evaluating current drought conditions and today Governor Jeff Colyer updated the Drought Declaration for Kansas counties with Executive Order 18-17. The update downgrades 55 counties.


“Kansas has been blessed with much-needed rains recently and we are able to declare many areas of the state now drought free,” said Governor Jeff Colyer. “We are still experiencing drought in the eastern portion of the state and continue to appreciate our federal partners at the Natural Resources Conservation Service as well as the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts for the producer assistance they are able to provide.”


With improvements in drought conditions the updated drought declaration now has 50 counties in emergency status, and five in watch status. This action was recommended by Tracy Streeter, Director of the Kansas Water Office (KWO) and Chair of the Governor’s Drought Response Team.


“Recent moisture has eased some of the drought conditions but we are still experiencing livestock water shortages, and forage production were less than half for most producers in eastern Kansas,” said Tracy Streeter. “Some areas of northeast Kansas are still behind more than 10 inches of moisture for the year.”


Counties in the emergency stage are eligible for emergency use of water from certain state fishing lakes due to the KWO Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kansas Department of Wildlife (KDWPT). They also become eligible for water in some Federal reservoirs. For more information about this availability contact KWO.


This Executive Order and any authorized upgrade shall remain in effect for those counties so identified until rescinded by Executive Order or superseded by a subsequent Executive Order revising the drought stage status of the affected counties. Effective immediately:


  • Declare a Drought Emergency, Warning or Drought Watch for the counties identified below;
  • Authorize and direct all agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor to implement the appropriate watch or warning or emergency level-drought response actions assigned in the Operations Plan of the Governor’s Drought Response Team.

The Governor’s Drought Response Team will continue to watch the situation closely and work to minimize the effects the drought has on Kansans.


For more detailed information about current conditions, see the Kansas Climate Summary and Drought Report on the Kansas Water Office website at


County Drought Stage Declarations:


Drought Emergency: Anderson, Atchison, Bourbon, Brown, Butler, Cherokee, Clay, Coffey, Cowley, Crawford, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Ellsworth,  Franklin, Geary, Greenwood,  Harper, Harvey, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Kingman, Labette,  Leavenworth, Lincoln, Linn, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Miami, Montgomery, Morris, Nemaha, Neosho, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pottawatomie, Reno, Rice, Riley, Saline, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Sumner, Wabaunsee, Washington, Wyandotte


Drought Watch: Allen, Chautauqua, Elk, Wilson, Woodson

Kansas Anti-Human Trafficking Manager Named

Secretary Meier-Hummel Announces Anti-Human Trafficking Program Manager

Kent Bauman brings wealth of experience to DCF

TOPEKA – Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel is pleased to announce Kent Bauman as the Human Trafficking Program Manager. This is a new position created to help coordinate Anti-Human Trafficking efforts across the state.

Prior to serving the agency, Bauman served at the Wichita Police Department, where he had been employed since 1987. Most recently, he was assigned to the Exploited and Missing Children Unit (EMCU). While at the EMCU, he regularly partnered with DCF to investigate cases of missing children, runaways, human trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). Since 2006, Bauman was involved in the investigation of more than 200 CSEC cases, and he was the first investigator to charge and convict a human trafficker in the state of Kansas.

“Kent has extensive knowledge about human trafficking and we are excited and grateful to have him at the agency,” said Secretary Meier-Hummel. “We purposefully created this position because we wanted to strengthen DCF’s approach to preventing human trafficking, and I believe Kent’s impressive background will serve him well as he leads DCF anti-human trafficking efforts across the state.”

In addition to serving as the Human Trafficking Program Manager, Bauman will also dually serve as the DCF Law Enforcement liaison, to help improve communication and collaboration between the agency and local law enforcement.

Bauman has a bachelor’s degree in Education from Southwest Baptist University.

“I look forward to working with law enforcement, local community partners and other state agencies to help improve DCF Anti-Human Trafficking efforts in Kansas,” said Bauman. “Trafficking survivors are some of our most vulnerable Kansans, and I am humbled to serve them in this new capacity at DCF. Secretary Meier-Hummel has made preventing human trafficking one of her top priorities, and I am excited to work alongside her in this effort.”

DCF partners with local law enforcement and other state agencies to address human trafficking in Kansas. DCF is statutorily required to conduct an initial assessment of children/youth whom law enforcement reasonably believes are victims of human trafficking to determine “safety, appropriate and timely placement and appropriate services to meet the immediate needs of the child.”

If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or may have information about a possible trafficking situation:

  • Call 911 if there is risk of immediate harm
  • Contact the National Human Trafficking hotline: 1-888-373-7888 Or text “befree” at (233733)
  • If the possible human trafficking victim is a minor, also call the Kansas Protection Report Center (KPRC) at 1-800-922-5330.