Nov 26, 2019 11:53 AM

New Dive Team receives merit pins

Posted Nov 26, 2019 11:53 AM

The new Dive Team comprised of members of the Geary County Sheriff's Department and Junction City Fire Department received merit pins during a ceremony Monday at the Geary County Office Building. The team is now fully mission capable and trained in both dive rescue and dive recovery.


Sheriff Daniel Jackson expected the team to become fully mission capable next spring but it actually occurred this past Oct. 27th. "The only reason this happened was because of the significant efforts of Ted Hayden ( YMCA Director ) and Jeff Freeborn and Flint Hills Scuba."


The 12-member team is comprised of volunteers, explained Jackson. "In a profession which is already dangerous these firefighters and sheriff's deputies all volunteered for the additional duty of dive rescue and recovery divers, and the inherent dangers that go with that."


In addition to working at Milford Lake, the team is deployable statewide. Sheriff's Department Lt. Thad Jones is the Dive Team Commander. The other members are from the Sheriff's Department, Sgt. Shawn Weeks, Sgt. Kirt Nichols, Deputy James Regalado, Detectives Jason Everson and Clint Arnold. From the Junction City Fire Department they include Fire fighters Jason Lankas, John Shepek, Todd Bogenhagen, Yeriela Bell and Paul Rabek.

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Nov 26, 2019 11:53 AM
Kan. foster care agency trains social workers to be ‘personal 911’ for kids

Kansas Department for Children and Families' social workers hold up sheets of papers illustrating the story of a 17-year-old boy who they expect in five years to be in prison or dead if they don't find him help. Evert Nelson / The Topeka Capital-Journal


By PEGGY LOWE

Kansas News Service


The foster kid is a 17-year-old boy who was kicked out of his home when he was 10, started using drugs by 13, and in five years is expected to be in prison or dead.


Kansas Department of Children and Families social workers check on him every day and there’s been some progress: He’s now in an independent living facility and he’s not using drugs anymore. But he still has many needs, including a coming heart transplant.


How can he be helped?


About 100 social workers from the Kansas Department for Children and Families considered that question at a bootcamp-stype workshop in Topeka on Friday with Kevin Campbell, creator of a national model called Family Finding.


Campbell said the team assigned to the boy must find relatives or people who care about him and have them intervene in the boy’s life.


“Basically you are building the personal 911 system for this kid,” Campbell said. “We call it a firehouse intervention. Quite literally, he needs a personal fire department ready to help him respond to the life he lives, which is a crisis every day.”


The goal of Family Finding is getting kids connected to someone who loves them in hopes of keeping them out of the foster care system and potentially preventing further trauma. It’s one of several programs DCF has implemented since Gov. Laura Kelly came into office this year aimed at reforming the long-embattled foster care system.


The social workers being trained on Friday came from DCF, the state’s two private contractors, and advocates from the community, said Tanya Keys, deputy DCF secretary. A strategic plan will be formed next month, while training is being implemented across the state, she said.


“The idea is that (social workers) go back and start planting these seeds, talking about these concepts and we'll get materials out to them so we can start that readiness for implementation,” Keys said.

Kevin Campbell, founder of the Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness, trains about 100 Kansas social workers Friday in a national model called "Family Finding." Credit Evert Nelson / The Topeka Capital-Journal


Campbell, founder of the Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness and a former foster parent, began his research in 2000 after years of hearing “This kid’s got nobody.”


He found that most foster children actually have a large family and that if they could be connected with five to eight adults who would make a “permanent relational commitment” to the child, it could change outcomes.


“The training is really about, how do you heal children who have had such harm done to them?” he said. “And importantly, how do you heal the whole family? Because this kind of generational experience has to stop somewhere.”


The training was sponsored by the Casey Foundation and Aetna Better Health of Kansas, which provides health care services for the state foster care system. Kellie Hans Reid, foster care coordinator with Aetna Better Health of Kansas, said research shows that traumatic experiences affect children’s health. 

Groups of Kansas Department for Children and Families' social workers at a 'Family Finding' boot camp on Friday at the Topeka Capital Plaza Hotel. Credit Evert Nelson / The Topeka Capital-Journal


“That, in turn, will affect their life course and their mortality, their metabolic issues, their cardiac issues,” she said. “What we know is that trauma affects the body.”


After the training this week, the team of social workers went back to the 17-year-old boy they’d been working with. He had told them he didn’t have anyone in his life to help, but through talking with him about people from his past, social workers found some — including a former school principal and a former foster father who taught him jujitsu, a sport he loves.


The social worker, who could not be identified because she works undercover to find missing foster kids, said she was trying to “give him a family, like it doesn’t have to be blood, just someone who cares about him.”


“He went from having two of us,” she said, “to having 26 of us in this week.” 


Peggy Lowe is a reporter at KCUR and is on Twitter at @peggyllowe.