|Every community must face an ever-changing environment and its influence on human well-being. How a community responds can be shaped by effective planning. That’s where United Community Services of Johnson County comes in. Through information, collaborative planning and mobilization of resources, the availability of health and human services can be enhanced to meet present and emerging needs.
Kansas Tax Policy
Kansas will collect $3.7 billion less as a result of the 2012 and 2013 tax bills, according to calculations by the Kansas Legislative Research Department. With no change to current tax policy, by 2017 Kansas will have an empty “bank account” and face a shortfall of more than $200 million. This means that the legislature and Kansans will need to make difficult decisions about the state’s future. To understand more, view presentations prepared by Duane Goosen, Kansas Health Institute and Annie McKay, Kansas Center for Economic Prosperity.
Kansas Could Do More for Poor Families with Children
A months-long study by United Community Services of Johnson County shows that the Kansas Department for Children and Families could do more to help poor families become and remain financially stable.
The report details state policies and rules since 2011 that determine eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the leading program to help the poorest families. UCS found that these rules overall appear designed to reduce caseloads rather than help families to succeed. Only about one in 10 TANF cases was closed this year because the recipient earned too much to retain eligibility.
State budgetary trends since 2008 show that less than one-third of all TANF spending in fiscal year 2013 goes for essential services of cash assistance, child care and employment services, down from more than one-half in FY 2008. Kansas has money to improve spending on core TANF programs. The beginning balance in TANF block grant funds was $48.7 million at the start of this fiscal year. Meanwhile cash benefits for Kansas’ poorest families with children are the same today, in actual dollars, as when the program started in 1996.
When considered together, the state’s policies and budgetary decisions present challenges to the poorest of Kansas families, who have turned to the state for help, often as a last resort. Recommendations are offered to generate conversation about improvements.
Download the full report.
Bridging The Gaps in Social Services: A Community Conference for Faith Leaders
Building the capacity of the human service safety net by forging partnerships with the faith community was the goal of the Community Conference for Faith Leaders hosted by United Community Services on November 14, 2013.
Representatives from more than 30 different congregations and faith organizations, joined two dozen human service organizations and school districts at the morning-long event. The conference was designed to help faith leaders learn about poverty in Johnson County, become familiar with information resources, and connect to local organizations.
Pastor Lee Jost, Christ the Servant Evangelical Covenant Church, who helped lead the effort to organize the conference, offered opening remarks. He emphasized that human life was the intersection between the faith community and human service organizations; there is a way for everyone to come together at the intersection.
The program included a presentation on poverty, demonstration of on-line information resources, a panel discussion of faith community/organization partnerships, and networking with organization representatives.
To view pictures from the event, visit United Community Services on Facebook.
Human Service Safety Net. A one-page fact sheet highlighting some of the local programs that rely on state/federal funding administered by the State of Kansas.
Read the Safety Net Messages here.