Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced on Wednesday her intent to submit an executive reorganization order to the Kansas Legislature creating the Kansas Department of Human Services (KDHS). The new agency will include the current programs at the Department for Children and Families (DCF), Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) and the juvenile services division of the Department of Corrections.
Current Secretary of DCF and KDADS, Laura Howard, will lead the new KDHS.
“I ran for office, in part, to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens were protected and that somebody in Topeka was advocating for them,” Kelly said. “One of my key priorities since taking office has been fixing our broken safety net and ensuring that we have a system that is worthy of our citizens. The creation of this new, combined agency reinforces my commitment to our children and families in need and ensures they have access to critical services.
“The creation of the new agency allows us to focus on prevention, so that we can get to these families before their situation becomes a crisis,” Kelly said. “The Department of Human Services will partner with communities across the state to create a single point of entry for those who need access to services for things like child welfare, mental health, economic support and juvenile justice.”
Programs included in the new agency will include:
- Adult protective services
- Adult behavioral health
- Long-term services and supports
- Employment supports
- Children’s mental-health supports
- Child protective services
- Juvenile justice and crossover youth
- Foster care
- Licensing, credentialing, survey and certification
- Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex
- Larned State Hospital
- Parsons State Hospital
- Osawatomie State Hospital
- Kansas Neurological Institute
Governor Kelly recognizes juvenile justice reform has resulted in a reduced need for incarceration while at the same time improving county community corrections case management. Including juvenile services in the new agency continues the improvement process.
“Given the needs of families for community collaboration and overlap, it makes sense to organize juvenile services and child welfare resources under one agency,” Kelly said.
“This is not going to be business as usual,” Howard said. “This combination of services gives us an opportunity to think differently about service delivery. We want Kansans to have seamless access to programs and services that will allow them to thrive. KDHS will be known for its innovation and willingness to work with community partners.”
“Secretary Howard is the perfect person to lead the new agency,” Kelly said. “I am confident that she has the vision and experience to launch an organization of this magnitude and ensure that all Kansans are well served by a commitment to continuous improvement and accountability.”
Governor Kelly will submit the ERO to the legislature within the first 30 days of session. The ERO becomes effective on July 1, following its transmittal to the Legislature, unless either the Senate or the House takes action on the ERO within 60 calendar days after submission.