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County OKs funding for Sunflower early ed
Agency seeing increased number of referrals
new deh county sunflower logo

 The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved funding Sunflower Diversified Early Childhood Intervention Program for $15,000. The money was included in the county’s 2017 operating budget and this is something the county has done since 1970.

The program provides individualized services to children ages birth to 3 years with a developmental delay or disability, said Jim Johnson, who serves as an adviser to the Sunflower Board. Sunflower’s staff serves children in the home, thus including the family actively in the educational process. 

Last year, Johnson said the program served 249 children from the agency’s five-county catchment area, including Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. Most came from Barton.

And, he said, this number could increase even more due to successful partnerships with Great Bend Unified School District 428 and Barton County Special Services. In 2016, there were 154 referrals to Sunflower, up from 13 the year before.

Commissioner Don Davis asked how Barton County’s contribution stacked up to the other four counties. Johnson said Pawnee County gives between $20,000 and $30,000, Rice $30,000, Rush $5,000 and Stafford $30,000.

Commissioner Alicia Straub said it was interesting that counties smaller than Barton are kicking in twice as much. “Barton County should take a closer look next year,” and possibly give more.

The Early Education Center is one of 37 tiny-K networks (tiny Kansans) serving special needs children from birth to 3 across the state. The overall goal of early education is to help the child overcome, or diminish, the delay to allow for an easier transition into future required services.

Sunflower has served children since 1966, and also operates the Incredible Years Preschool which serves older children. In addition, in 1969, it added adult services. 

In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:

• Approved continued membership in the National Association of Counties (NACo) at a cost of $553. This is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,068 counties, advancing issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improving the public’s understanding of county government, assisting counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research and providing value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. Other benefits include the NACo Prescription Card Program, webinars and certain publications.