New DCF Policy Connects Families with Vital Early Childhood Services; Promotes Safe Sleep

Agency Using Universal Infant Referral Policy Across Kansas

The Kansas Department for Children and Families is implementing a new policy designed to take a proactive approach to connecting Kansas families with important parent skill building programs. The Universal Infant Referral policy mandates child protection workers, when working with a family that has an infant under the age of one, refer the family to community-based infant-toddler and home visitor programs.

“We want to meet a family’s needs before crisis sets in,” Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard said. “Providing families with services and supports early may help prevent future maltreatment.”

The new policy took effect July 1 and is already connecting families with programs like Early Head Start, Parents as Teachers and Healthy Families America.

“We are already seeing positive outcomes from this new initiative,” Crawford County Healthy Families supervisor Lindsay Restivo said. “Recently we have been able to connect 16-year-old parents with much needed support services and education in Crawford County. During weekly home visits with our family support specialist, the parents will learn more about positive parent-child interaction, safe sleep and other important health information like the dangers of sudden infant death syndrome.”

The new policy also requires the child protection worker to assess the infant’s sleep environment using guidance from Safe Sleep Kansas. The worker provides the family information and resources to help support a safe sleep environment for the infant.

“It is important to me that Kansas families know that these services are available to them,” Howard said. “We know these programs can help children and families thrive and we are excited to facilitate these connections.”

For additional information on infant-toddler resources visit:

Information on safe sleep is available at:

Early Childhood Systems Building in Kansas

Kansas received a federal planning grant to facilitate a collaborative effort to shape our state’s future direction for early childhood. This one-year planning grant authorized by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act will support:

  • The development of a comprehensive needs assessment & strategic plan for early childhood in Kansas
  • Activities to maximize parental choice and knowledge of early care and education options
  • The sharing of best practices among early childhood providers
  • Improvement of the overall quality of early childhood services

There are many ways you can getting involved, including:

Community Sensemaking Workshops
These sessions will help Kansas create a strategic plan for early childhood. Haga clic aquí para ver la página en Español.

Kansas Early Childhood Systems-Building Webinars
Webinars occur every other Wednesday at 12PM to inform and connect early childhood stakeholders across the state to this effort.  Participants are asked to register in advance (name and email) to ensure appropriate follow-up and that we are engaging voices from all across Kansas.

Share Your Experiences Through SenseMaker
By sharing stories of the challenges and bright spots families experience with a tool called SenseMaker, you help contribute to a richer understanding of what family resilience looks like in our state.


To learn more, visit Early Childhood Initiatives in Kansas 2019.