Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider told the County Commission Monday morning she is eager to implement a new program to help improve the lives of young parents and expectant mothers.
She was referring to Lifting Young Families Toward Excellence (LYFTE). It is a project of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment which in August was awarded a $941,475 grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health to provide parent education and life-skills support to pregnant and parenting teenagers, and young adults 24 and younger.
“I’m excited about this,” Schneider said. This program nests nicely with others, such as the anti-poverty Circles of Central Kansas effort.
To make LYFET happen, the commission approved a revision to the already-approved schedule of authorized positions for 2018 and 2019 to include a part-time position for the Health Department for this year and next. The KDHE funding covers the cost of the position, which may morph into a full-time job come 2019.
“The state approached Barton County,” Schneider said. Program goals include developing a support network for young parents and their families, integrating strategies that reinforce parenting skills and enhance family relationships, fostering the economic stability of young families through education completion and employment, and improving relationship-related skills among young parents.
“This is perfect since our pregnancy rates are higher than the state average,” she said. According to the KDHE, the 2017 teen pregnancy rate in Barton County was 15.4 percent compared to the state’s 12.7 percent.
A comprehensive process and outcome evaluation was conducted by the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research. This is designed to ensure accountability.
“The LYFTE project provides support for young families to navigate systems, achieve health goals and move toward self-sufficiency,” said Rachel Sisson, director of the Bureau of Family Health at KDHE. “We are excited to partner with several communities across Kansas to help young families thrive.”
The HHS Office of Adolescent Health awards grants to provide education and life-skills supports through a competitive application and review process. The opportunity, formally known as Support for Expectant and Parenting Teens, Women, Fathers, and Their Families grants, provides funds for programs that implement evidence-based and evidence-informed practices to help young families live full, healthy lives.
“We want to give people a second chance,” Schneider said.