Kansas Family Strengthening Summit held June 8
Kansans have been hearing a lot about strengthening families, promoting marriage, and healthy relationships from the current state administration. KCSDV has been involved at many levels. The Kansas Family Strengthening Summit is just one. Here?s our report on the Summit. You can also read Anne Menard's remarks.
The Kansas Family Strengthening Summit was held June 8-9th in Wichita, hosted by the Kansas Family Strengthening Coalition.
The Summit included a full day of presentations and speakers, an evening of facilitated "Critical Conversations", a wide array of workshops, the unveiling of highlights from the "Critical Conversations," and an optional post-summit, full-day training.
The first-day presentations were led by 30 local, state and national professionals from the field of Family Strengthening and Healthy Relationships, as well as elected officials. Speakers included U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo; Kansas Governor Sam Brownback; Secretary of Kansas Social and Rehabilitative Services Rob Siedlecki; Secretary of Kansas Department of Health and Environment Dr. Robert Moser; and Dr. Anne Menard, Executive Director of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. /p>
The invitation-only "Critical Conversations" were held on the evening of the first day and included a wide array of topics. Each conversation was tasked with creating three recommendations on how to strengthen families. Topics included legislative and legal Issues; addressing sexual and domestic violence; addressing the issue of sexually exploited teens; fatherhood; serving families with special needs; strengthening families of first responders, Hispanics, African-Americans, youth 0-12, and youth 13-25, among others.
As one of many co-sponsors of the event, the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence understands the importance of safety when working with couples and promoting relationships. Additionally, KCSDV and all of its member programs act as critical resources on this topic.
KCSDV and its member programs are already providing primary prevention work on sexual and domestic violence. This work includes the development and fostering of individual, community, and social norms that support healthy relationships and begin to answer questions such as: What are healthy relationships? What do they look like? How do we grow our children with those norms in mind? How do we foster social change necessary to allow for the creation of healthy relationships and healthy communities?
As the recommendations from the Summit move toward implementation, it will be critical to include experts in sexual and domestic violence at all levels; sexual assault and domestic violence do matter, and do, in fact, affect an incredibly high number of Kansas families. No marriage or relationship can be healthy if there is sexual assault or domestic violence present, or if the prior effects of either make it impossible or difficult to have a healthy relationship or marriage.
It is also important to note that this work is not only happening at the state and local level. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families recently announced the availability of $150 million for Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Relationship and Marriage Grants. This funding is intended to help fathers meet their parenting and financial responsibilities to their children and assist married couples or those considering marriage in building strong relationships with each other and their children.
"To invest in the success of fathers is to invest in the future of our children, our economy, and our communities" said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "This funding provides organizations in underserved communities with the tools they need to promote responsible parenting, to encourage healthy marriage and relationships, and to remove barriers to financial security and self-sufficiency."
The funding opportunities available (with application due dates of July 28, 2011) include:
- Community-Centered Healthy Marriage and Relationship grants support programs that have the capacity and proven track record of providing a broad range of healthy marriage and relationship skills training.
- Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood grants support organizations that demonstrate the ability to successfully promote responsible fatherhood, including economic stability, responsible parenting, and healthy marriage and relationship skills.
- Community-Centered Responsible Fatherhood Ex-Prisoner Re-Entry Pilot Project grants support re-entry programs that provide responsible fatherhood pre- and post-release case management services to recently released or re-entering fathers and mothers.
- National Resource Center for Strategies to Promote Healthy Marriage grants support the development, implementation and management of a resource center to gather, develop, and disseminate information and research related to promoting healthy marriage.
"We recognize the need for fathers to be present in their children's lives," said George Sheldon, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. "These funding opportunities bring us closer to preparing more fathers to nurture and take full responsibility for their children and for couples to sustain healthy relationships."
KCSDV looks forward to the next steps! Primary prevention of domestic and sexual violence necessarily depends, in part, on building models of the healthy relationship and marriage that will take all of us toward a violence free society.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Office of Family Assistance: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/
Funding Opportunity Announcements: www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/foa
Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood: www.fatherhood.gov
Kansas Strengthening Families Coalition: thefamilystrengtheningcoalition.com
Healthy Relationships and the Connection to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: www.healthymarriageinfo.org/collections-by-topic/marriage-and-domestic-violence
Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence: www.kcsdv.org