Brownback Appoints Task Force on Reducing Childhood Poverty

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TOPEKA – Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Wednesday announced his appointment of the Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Childhood Poverty to develop recommendations for measures Kansas can take to decrease child poverty and improve child outcomes in our state.

Leading the task force will be Department of Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore; Sedgwick County Economic Development Specialist and healthy families activist Sherdeill Breathett will serve as co-chair.

“All too often in our state, children who are living in poverty today become tomorrow’s poor parents. Intergenerational poverty such as this affects our state’s long-term productivity and wellbeing,” Governor Brownback said. “We need concrete ideas on how to change this pattern.”

The Governor has pulled together a panel of Kansans from all walks of life to discuss and recommend the best ways Kansas can achieve one of the cornerstone goals of his administration, reducing childhood poverty.

“Our starting point is what we believe: that children matter, that parents matter, and that there is an appropriate role for the state in improving child outcomes. While many children spend only short periods of their lives in poverty, some experience it over the course of their entire childhood,” Secretary Gilmore said. “The results are lower educational achievement, reduced employment prospects, poorer health and higher rates of criminal offenses.”

“However long or short the experience, it can affect them their entire lives,” Secretary Gilmore added.

The task force will convene its first meeting at 10:00 on Monday, November 19th in Topeka in the Kansas Board of Regents Conference Room on the 5th floor of the Curtis State Office Building, 1000 SW Jackson.

“We are looking for realistic, cost-effective, evidence-based ways to address the problems of childhood poverty from a number of different directions,” Mr. Breathett said. “Part of our mission is to look for ways to make sure young people – and their parents -- learn as early as possible that their decisions today can have an impact on their chances of escaping poverty as adults. It’s a hard thing to teach the young, but we have to find a way to do it.”

Kansas First Lady Mrs. Mary Brownback will serve as an unofficial advisor to the task force.

“One way to make Kansas a better place for all of us to live is to focus our attention and care on children, who are the most vulnerable among us and our most valuable resource,” Mrs. Brownback said.

The Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Childhood Poverty members include:

Barry Feaker, the Executive Director of the Topeka Rescue Mission (TRM), a homeless shelter which has served Topeka, Kansas for more than 58 years. TRM is dedicated to providing food, shelter, clothing, training and hope to homeless and impoverished men, women and children. Under Mr. Feaker’s leadership it has expanded its reach and services to the community of greater Topeka.

Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore is a former Kansas state legislator who also served as the executive director of the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board (BSRB), based in Topeka, for more than 11 years. The BSRB licenses and regulates most of the mental health professionals in Kansas. She served as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from 1994-2000 representing Johnson County. Her private sector experience is primarily within the areas of adoption and health care. Gilmore is a licensed specialist in clinical social work with a master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis. She was appointed Secretary by Governor Brownback in January, 2012.

Sherdeill Breathett, Segwick County economic development specialist, is former president of the South Central Economic Development district, an executive board member of Real Men, Real Heroes, serves as president of the Kansas African American Health Marriage Initiative, has worked with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Sedgwick County for 20 years and is a member of the Kansas Healthy Marriage Initiative. A former radio talk show host, he has 11 years’ experience in economic development and specializes in business retention, expansion, incentives, compliance and foreign trade zone.

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Secretary Shawn Sullivan heads the state’s second largest cabinet level agency. KDADS is responsible for overseeing and administering Older American’s Act programs, the distribution of Medicaid long-term care payments, survey and certification for adult care homes, behavioral health programs, home and community based services for older adults and persons with disabilities and the management and oversight of five state hospitals. He played an integral part in the development of KanCare, which is Governor Brownback’s Medicaid reform plan that will be implemented in January 2013. KanCare will provide integrated and coordinated care for the 383,000 Kansans currently served by Medicaid programs. Secretary Sullivan holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in gerontology from the University of North Texas. He was appointed by Governor Sam Brownback in January, 2011.

Kansas Department for Health and the Environment Secretary Robert Moser, MD, is a family physician. He also serves as the State Health Officer. Dr. Moser was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in Tribune, Kansas. He attended the KU School of Pharmacy, KU School of Medicine and completed his residency in Family Medicine at the Smoky Hill Family Practice Residency in Salina. After completing his residency, he practiced in his hometown of Tribune, Kansas, for 22 years. Dr. Moser played a leading role in the development of KanCare. He is a past president of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians and was the Family Physician of the Year in 2006. He has served on numerous committees at the state and national level including the Kansas Rural Policy Commission and the Veterans Affairs Rural Health Advisory Committee.

Monsignor Vincent Krische worked for 28 years at the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The Rev. Krische entered the ministry at age 26, working in Kansas City and Topeka before taking up his duties in Lawrence. His final assignment before his retirement in 2009 was for St. Ann Catholic Church in Prairie Village. Father Krische is now a Senior Associate at Corpus Christi Church in Lawrence.

Dan Lord, PhD, is a tenured professor of marriage and family therapy in Friends University’s Master of Science in Family Therapy (MSFT) program in Wichita. A Kansas native, his contribution to the MSFT program and the larger MFT profession spans nearly 25 years. He has been recognized by professional leadership awards from the Kansas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and nationally by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. As a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist (LCMFT), Dr. Lord maintains a small private practice of couples therapy.

Carolyn Szafran, MSW, graduated from Washburn University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree and in art and education. She received a Master of Science from Kansas State University in special education and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Kansas. Ms. Szafran has been a social work instructor and field coordinator at Washburn University for 10 years and has presented professional training to care givers on compassion fatigue. She has worked in a clinical private practice working with survivors of trauma since 1991. She also volunteers her time for advocacy work for the oppressed, disenfranchised and disabled.

Mary Wilkinson, RN, has a professional background in emergency department and quality assurance nursing. A lifelong Kansan, she has served on various community and statewide organizational boards over the past 20 years with experience in all areas of development. Currently, Ms. Wilkinson serves on the Kansas Family Policy Council Board of Directors and served as facilitator for its Strengthening Kansas Marriages Task Force this year.

Joan Schultz is a graduate of Washburn University and has worked throughout her career in the private, public and non-profit sectors. She has been executive director of The Willow Domestic Violence Center (The Willow) in Lawrence, since July, 2011. The Willow serves survivors of domestic violence in Douglas, Jefferson and Franklin Counties. Previously she was director of customer affairs for the Kansas Children's Service League (KCSL). While with KCSL, she worked on many projects such as the private infant adoption program and foster care parent recruitment. Her career has focused on safety, health, poverty, and children and family issues.

Joyce Crumpton, RN, is a graduate of Bishop Ward High school in Kansas City and St. Mary’s School of Nursing. A Kansas native, she recently retired after working as a nurse in the greater Kansas City area for 30 years. Ms. Crumpton also served on the REACH Healthcare Foundation for three years.

Robert DeLeon is the Community Center Director and Youth Program Director for the Salvation Army in Garden City and has invested two decades as a youth worker. He also serves on the Mosaic Allied Voices, Mosaic Community Advisory Board, Finney County RSVP and is the Board Chairman for the Kansas Hispanic & Latino American Affairs Commission. Mr. DeLeon joined the United States Air Force in 1982 and spent 10 years as a staff sergeant in the Security Police Squadron. After the Air Force, Mr. DeLeon returned to Southwest Kansas to live in Garden City. In 1996 Mr. DeLeon started as a volunteer with The Salvation Army at the Youth Center and two years later was hired as the Youth Program Director. In 1997 he was named to the Garden City Telegram’s first “People Who Make a Difference” Team. And in 1998 he was awarded The Telegram’s “Youth Worker of the Year.”