DSNWK: home visits keep families together

LiveWell Press Release

Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas (DSNWK) is proud to offer a new service to families called Fam-Link.

DSNWK has teamed up with LiveWell Northwest Kansas, Inc. to focus on nurturing and supporting families to improve outcomes for children in northwest Kansas using Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up intervention.

This intervention is designed to help families develop critical skills leading to better outcomes for children and thus family preservation.

Fam-Link service at DSNWK is offered to parents and caregivers of babies who are between 6 and 24 months old. Fam-Link strengthens the relationship with the child, while helping the child to learn to regulate behaviors and emotions.

DSNWK’s Fam-Link program helps to identify and respond to a baby's signals. As a result, the relationship between parent and child is one that helps to protect him or her from stress, early challenges and adversity.

For more information about DSNWK’s Fam-Link program, contact Sara Biggs at 785-621-5329 or sara_biggs@mydsnwk.org.

The nationally recognized home-visiting program, known as ABC for short, is being expanded across northwest Kansas as two local organizations come together to support families experiencing trauma and toxic stress.

Ultimately, the goal of the ABC program is to benefit children at risk of placement in foster care.

“The ABC program offers a unique opportunity to position Kansas as a leader in child welfare, and LiveWell Northwest Kansas is honored to be called upon to support vulnerable families of northwest Kansas,” said LiveWell Director Travis Rickford. “We’ve partnered with Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas in Hays to ensure the program’s success throughout the entire region.”

The ABC approach is a home visiting, coach-led treatment which has been successful at holding families together and preventing children from entering the foster care system, explained Rickford. The evidence-based program benefits families who have experienced neglect, abuse, and domestic violence by providing parents and caregivers with skills to offer nurturing care and create bonds with children.

“LiveWell works to implement evidence-based interventions that improve overall health and well-being for northwest Kansas counties,” added Rickford. “As we explore opportunities to address toxic stress and trauma within families, we’ve discovered that ABC is a proven method to make families happier and healthier, which in turn improves our ability to thrive as a community.”

With support from the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund (UMHMF), LiveWell began offering the ABC program in 2017. Initially, the program was offered to 12 northwest Kansas counties from Cheyenne to Trego. Now, it supports 18 counties.

Then, in Oct. 2019, additional funding support was received from the Department of Health and Family Services (DCF) through the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First). The grant was awarded to the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Project Eagle (Project Eagle) who, in turn, named LiveWell the local organization responsible for meeting goals across rural and frontier parts of Kansas.

As a result of additional funding from DCF by way of Project Eagle, and a new partnership with DSNWK, LiveWell is now able to grow the program and include families in more counties: Cheyenne, Rawlins, Decatur, Norton, Phillips, Smith, Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, Graham, Rooks, Osborne, Wallace, Logan, Gove, Trego, Ellis and Russell.

“Partnering with DNSWK to expand ABC offerings is a natural solution to this collective effort being realized throughout the state,” said Rickford. “DSNWK has an incredible track record for their ability to support children and families and we are proud to join them in this effort.”

“Together with leadership from Project Eagle and our partnership with DSNWK, we have an incredibly well-built team of ABC Home Visitors who are qualified to offer parent coaching throughout the region,” continued Rickford. “From LiveWell, we have Emily Palmer, Robert Opat and two bilingual home visitors, Sandra Estrada and Liz Merchan, who join two other DSNWK home visitors, Kathleen Plummer and Franses Schmidt.

“We couldn’t do this work without support from DCF, Project Eagle and the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund.”

For more information, contact Rickford at (785) 460-8177 or travisr@nwksprevention.org.