Community comes out to protect Kansas kids

Local News

A federal grant is aiming to make sure Kansas kids have a high quality of life.

At the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library on Tuesday, people came together to ensure kids have the best childhood possible.

The Kansas Children’s Cabinet partnered with the state Department of Education, Department of Children and Families, and Department of Health and Environment to hold a community engagement session.

The sessions have been held all across the state and have a heavy focus on getting the public’s input.

People brainstormed how children under five years old can be better served in the state. Topics included education, health, and preventing abuse.

“We ask people to envision the goal, dream big and tell us where they’d like to be as a community for their early childhood system, and then we ask for some time spent assessing the gap of where they are and where they’d like to be,” said executive director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet Melissa Rooker.

She said the sessions try to find the needs of each community straight from the source. 

“We want to keep it open, and we want the public to provide honest feedback, without being led to certain conclusions.”

The United Way of Greater Topeka co-hosted the event with Together Topeka.

“I think often we listen to professionals, and they are the ones who have a voice but I also think giving families a voice here will probably give us some information and give us some insight on some experiences that we simply aren’t witnessing ourselves,” said Vice President of Community Impact for United Way Brett Martin.

Martin said a comprehensive approach to solving problems will get the best results.

“Whether that’s school districts in education, whether that’s state policy, whether than local policy, whether that’s economic development, maybe asking ourselves how it is that business might be able to adopt policies that are family friendly. Think of how non-profits, neighborhoods play a role, a whole host of folks,” he said.

Sessions like this one will continue throughout July across the state. After they wrap up, officials will put a plan together to try to tackle the issues they learned about.

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