• Dec 2011/Jan 2012
  • Vol. 12, No. 9

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Kansas Intensive Permanency Project

This article spotlights one of the six grantees funded last year by the Children's Bureau through the Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) to test innovative approaches to finding permanency for youth experiencing long-term foster care.

Children in foster care experience much higher rates of mental health problems than children in the general population. In Kansas, 76 percent of all children in long-term foster care (LTFC) have a serious emotional disturbance (SED). These children have more placements and remain in LTFC longer than non-SED children. Many of the available interventions for this population focus on the children's behaviors and mental health needs but do not provide sufficient services and supports for the birth families. This can contribute to barriers to reintegrating the child with the birth family, such as a diminished bond between the child and family and difficulty managing problematic child behaviors. To counter this trend and facilitate permanency, the Kansas Intensive Permanency Project (KIPP), which is part of the Children's Bureau's Permanency Innovations Initiative, will deliver in-home, parent-focused services to families of children with SED who are in the foster care system.

KIPP is a partnership between the University of Kansas, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services, and the four private, nonprofit providers of foster care in the State: Youthville, TFI Family Services Inc., KVC Behavioral HealthCare Kansas Inc., and St. Francis Community Services. After more than 200 hours of research, the project selected the Parent Management Training–Oregon Model (PMTO) as its key intervention. PMTO (http://www.isii.net/) is an evidence-based intervention designed to enhance parenting, including helping parents manage the behavior of their children. The model is not specifically designed for families of children with SED, but it has been used with this population.

This project, which is in the early months of implementation, will include the random assignment of families into either the treatment group, which will receive PMTO services, or the control group, which will receive services as usual (e.g., foster care case management). Birth families throughout the State are eligible to participate if the removed child is between the ages of 3 and 16 and has been designated as having an SED. If a family has been selected for the treatment group, a KIPP clinician will be assigned to provide PMTO services soon after the child's removal. KIPP's intensive services will focus on:

  • Increasing positive parenting
  • Decreasing coercive parenting practices
  • Increasing community resources and supports
  • Decreasing problem behaviors in the children
  • Preparing the family for reunification
  • Increasing the number and quality of parent-child visits

PMTO allows for the development of a self-sustaining infrastructure in Kansas. The PMTO purveyor is training staff in Kansas about the model, with PMTO certification for a clinician generally taking 12 to 18 months, and eventually the project will develop its own trainers. To enhance sustainability, the KIPP Steering Committee also will try to secure dedicated funding for the initiative.

KIPP's implementation plan has been approved by the Children's Bureau, and the project is scheduled to begin providing services in mid-November 2011. Project staff are eager to provide these necessary services to enhance permanency for children in Kansas with SEDs and to provide information about this type of intervention to the broader child welfare field. Erin Stucky, president of KVC Behavioral Healthcare, noted, "As the leaders in child welfare in the State of Kansas, we are so eager to watch the KIPP program unfold. We have spent countless hours meeting, brainstorming, researching, discussing and creating a plan to make it happen. We haven't feared the potential barriers that have and will come our way. We know that we have developed the best program, selected the best intervention, and trained the best staff to make this program a success." 

Many thanks to the following members of the KIPP Steering Committee for providing information for this article: Becci Akin, Stephanie Bryson, Chad Childs, Shirley Dwyer, Vickie McArthur, and Erin Stucky.


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