For Immediate Release
November 3, 2009

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Kansas Project LAUNCH

More than 600 Finney County families will benefit from a $4.25 million grant awarded to the Kansas Department of Health Environment (KDHE) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The funds are part of Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health), a five-year cooperative agreement that supports coordination of state and local services to strengthen families. Project LAUNCH is a project of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

The University of Kansas’ Institute for Educational Research and Public Service wrote the grant on behalf of KDHE, the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, the Kansas Early Learning Coordinating Council and the Finney County Community Health Coalition.

“Project LAUNCH is essentially everyone working together to meet the needs of children and their families,” said Roderick Bremby, Secretary of KDHE.  “In particular, this grant will assist Finney County families by helping to develop and enhance services.”

Eighty percent of the money will go toward efforts in Finney County. While Kansas continues to be predominantly Caucasian, Finney County has experienced tremendous growth in minority populations such as Hispanic, Vietnamese, German Mexican Mennonites, and most recently Burmese and Somalians. There has been a 110 percent increase in residents of Hispanic ethnicity from 1990 to 2000. Currently, 44.5 percent of residents identify as Hispanic, compared with 8.8 percent in Kansas overall.

Through state and local collaboration, Project LAUNCH will support evidence-based services that strengthen families and will enhance current programs in the community. The work will build on early childhood efforts that have been led by Smart Start Southwest Kansas and the Russell Child Development Center. Project LAUNCH will expand strengthening families efforts in Finney County that have been led by the Community Health Coalition partners including the Kansas Children’s Service League, Area Mental Health Center and USD 457 Parents as Teachers. Finney County was an ideal location for this initiative as there is already a great collaboration established amongst agencies, businesses and the community.

The Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics will also partner in this effort to provide training on developmental screening in Finney County and in select communities across the state.