Creating safety and stability for Kansas children

In 2012, I attended a workshop at the National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, where I learned about the interactive systems learning lab the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had created to encourage businesses to invest in violence prevention. It was agreed that the early version of the learning lab would be beta tested with the Kansas Children’s Service League board members and foundation trustees who were already invested in the prevention of child abuse and neglect.  

The following year, Kansas wrote an application for CDC’s Essentials for Childhood: Creating Safe, Stable and Nurturing Relationships and Environments grant, but in the end was unable to submit it. Therefore, Kansas decided to proceed as a participating, self-supported state and secure private funds to make the same commitment as the funded states and have a seat at the table.  

Our focus was to prevent and mitigate adverse childhood experiences by creating safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments.

The primary funding for this initiative has come from the Health Forward Foundation with additional funding from the REACH Healthcare Foundation, Christie Development Associates, another private foundation who chooses to remain anonymous, and the Junior League Wichita.  All are private funding sources.

Kansas has made a significant commitment to implementing the Essentials framework using a collective impact approach. Their funding is on par with what CDC contributes to the funded state grantees and their implementation progress reflects similar breadth and evolution.  

Three backbone agencies make up the KPOP leadership team: the Kansas Department.of Health and Environment (KDHE), Wichita State University Community Engagement Institute (WSU CEI), and the Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL). The steering committee consists of individuals who work at the director level or higher in their respective organizations and represents about 40 agencies.  K-PoP has two work groups, each with about 10 members: Community Awareness and Kids Are Good Business.

Achievements of this Coalition include:

  • 2014 and 2015 Kansas Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) data by KDHE
  • 2014 Sedgwick and Wyandotte County ACE data by KDHE with 2014-2015 combined data reports for those counties and Johnson, Douglas, and Shawnee by June, 2017
  • Draft toolkit for raising awareness, piloted by participating agencies
  • Creating business policy checklist and accreditation plan, piloted by participating agencies
  • Completion of 2016 Kansas Social Norms Survey by WSU CEI and National Funded State Data Comparison Report
  • Use of KU Community Checkbox for process evaluation to determine impact; WSU CEI completed first report
  • Tracking of shared metrics by WSU CEI in areas of 10 adverse childhood experiences
  • Creation of webpage by KDHE to house all these documents at

The CDC’s ACE study has made child maltreatment a public health issue. Having access to the CDC even though we are an unfunded state has been beneficial for Kansas. We have learned from the reverse site visits to the CDC in Atlanta, the conference calls, and networking with other states how to bring CDC public health tools such as a collective impact process, ACE data, awareness tools, policy tools, and a social norms survey implementation process.  

It has been an important investment of our time.

If any Kansas agency is interested in taking part in this initiative, please contact Vicky Roper at

Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006