AT&T Sponsors a New JAG-K Program at Seaman High Shcool
TOPEKA— Each year, AT&T funds $1 million to the JAG National Program and that funding is distributed to JAG State Affiliate Programs. In Kansas, AT&T donated $30,000 to sponsor a new JAG-K program at Seaman High School for the 2017-18 school year.
Seaman High School Principal, Mike Monaghan, summarized the first year as a JAG-K school saying, “The JAG-K Program, under the leadership of Craig Rocastle and Michael Munoz has had a significant impact on our students in terms of attendance, academic achievement, school connectedness, leadership and service to the community.”
Over the past five years, AT&T has sponsored new programs at high schools in Kansas City, Kansas and in the Topeka area at Seaman and Shawnee Heights High School. “AT&T has been a phenomenal partner at both the national and state levels,” said JAG-K President/CEO Chuck Knapp. “Over the years, they have been responsible for supporting thousands of students, who have benefited immensely by the opportunity to be part of the JAG and JAG-K programs.” Mike Scott, President of AT&T Kansas, has served on the JAG-K Board of Directors since September 2015.
JAG-K is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that partners with students facing various barriers to success, helping them graduate high school and on to a successful career path. JAG-K currently has 68 programs in 33 Kansas school districts, serving more than 3,100 students. The organization is expanding in 2018-19 to include new programs in Beloit, El Dorado, Goodland, Shawnee Mission, and Topeka.
Funding for the program primarily comes from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars, administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
JAG-K is an affiliate of the national JAG program that operates in 34 states and territories. In addition to school districts, JAG-K partners with DCF and the Kansas State Department of Education. JAG-K also relies on private funds from contributors including AT&T, John Deere, Aetna Foundation, and Amerigroup Foundation. Anyone interested in more information about JAG-K may visit the website at www.jagkansas.org.
For Immediate Release
Contact Chuck Knapp
Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) President/CEO Chuck Knapp released the following statement in response to Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D.’s line-item veto of a provision in the Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Bill that capped the amount of federal funding JAG-K is allowed to receive to support Kansas students facing barriers to success.
“We appreciate Governor Colyer’s support of, not only the public schools and students who benefit from JAG-K now, but also hundreds of additional students that may be served in the near future because of his action today,” said Knapp. “The Kansas Legislature has also been strongly supportive of JAG-K, and we look forward to working with the governor, the legislature, the Kansas Department of Education, the Kansas Department for Children and Families and our community and public school partners in realizing the dream we all have for our children – successful futures.”
Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) is committed to partnering with “at-risk” students to overcome barriers to graduation from high school and prepare them for college or career pathways that will help them reach their full potential. Funding for the program primarily comes from federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars, administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF).
Section 74 (e) of Senate Bill 109 intended to place an expenditure limitation, or cap, upon the funding for JAG-K. Governor Jeff Colyer vetoed this section in its entirety to allow DCF the flexibility to assist more “at-risk” students, given the opportunity.
JAG-K is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. JAG-K currently has 68 programs in 33 Kansas school districts, serving more than 3,100 students. The organization is expanding in 2018-19 to include new programs in Beloit, El Dorado, Goodland, Hays, Independence, Shawnee Mission, and Topeka.
JAG-K is also supported by corporate sponsors including, ADM, Aetna Foundation, Amerigroup Foundation, AT&T and John Deere. Organizational partnerships include the Kansas State Department of Education, Kansas Department for Children and Families and 33 Kansas school districts.
By Samantha Silva, JAG-K Career Specialist
Rae’Chel truly is a success story. This is her second year participating and she has been the most involved and enthusiastic student in her JAG-K program. To say she has overcome significant obstacles would be an understatement. She doesn’t like to talk about it, but life has not always been easy for this young lady. Having grown up in a family that struggled financially and personally felt the impact of local charities and programs, Rae’Chel is eager to give back. She is always the first to propose community service projects for our Career Association. Not only has she grown into a leader in the classroom, but she will be the first person in her family to attend college. Despite her mother’s recent battle with cancer, Rae’Chel has stayed focused and has been accepted into Johnson County Community College. She will also attend the State Career Development Conference in April after placing 1st in the JAG-K Entrepreneurs Competition at the Regional CDC. It’s safe to say she is on a sure path to success.
DCF announces event and outlines efforts to increase placement options for Kansas kids
Currently, there are more than 7,500 children in foster care. Sadly, these children have been placed outside of their home by the court for safety reasons. As the number of children in foster care continues to rise, following the national trend, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) is actively recruiting foster families in all parts of the state, to ensure children can remain in their home communities while the agency and its contractors work with birth families to address safety issues and promote reunification.
“It has become abundantly clear that we need more foster families, especially those who are willing to accept older youth, sibling groups and children with special needs,” said DCF Secretary Meier-Hummel. “We are actively working to strengthen the continuum of care.”
At this time, there are more than 2,600 foster homes in Kansas. Ensuring appropriate accommodations for children in care has been and remains a top priority for Secretary Meier-Hummel. However, some solutions to address the shortage of homes and facilities require additional funding. Governor Jeff Colyer, in January, proposed a DCF budget enhancement of $16.5 million to address this and other urgent issues to help Kansas families in crisis.
“I remain hopeful that the Kansas Legislature will respond to these needs by fully funding this request,” said Governor Colyer. “As a State, we have a duty to care for children deemed unsafe in their own homes. Without adequate resources, we jeopardize our ability to address the problems facing the child welfare system.”
With the current resources, Secretary Meier-Hummel continues to seek solutions to the placement-option shortage. In recent months, she has worked diligently with DCF staff and others to address the immediate issue of placing youth, to prevent overnight stays in contractor offices. She is also directing staff to quickly eliminate identified barriers in the placement process. Kinship care approvals are being expedited. Reviews and investigations of foster homes are being moved through. And provider agreements are being fast tracked to increase bed availability. These steps are being taken, all while ensuring child safety is not compromised.
While it’s important to focus on the immediate need for placement options, it’s also important to relay our appreciation for the foster and kinship families who are taking on the tremendous responsibility of caring for youth removed from their homes. Governor Colyer has signed a proclamation designating May as Foster Care Month.
At 5:30 p.m., on May 12, DCF will host a foster family appreciation night at the Topeka Zoo and Conservation Center. The event will kick off with a news conference, to include Lieutenant Governor Tracey Mann, Secretary Meier-Hummel, foster families and others. Foster care information will be available at more than a dozen booths, and family-friendly activities will be available throughout the zoo grounds. A cook-out dinner will be provided to attendees. (Please do not promote in advance, as this event will be open to the media and invited guests only.)
Additionally, throughout the month of May, foster care contractors, KVC Kansas and Saint Francis Community Services, will host other appreciation events for families.
For more information about foster care in Kansas, visit www.FosterKSKids.org or call 1-844-380-2009.
May is Foster Care Month
Kansas Department for Children and Families announces efforts to increase placement options for Kansas kids
Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas helps students prepare for successful futures. All our JAG-K students are facing multiple barriers to reaching their full potential, but in January we started a pilot program for Kansas students facing some of the biggest challenges -- students in foster care.
Other than the situations that placed them in care, lack of academic success is one of the most significant obstacles facing these students. Less than 51 percent of Kansas students in foster care graduate from high school. One of the primary reasons for this seems to be the loss of academic progress with each new placement. With each new foster care placement comes a new set of teachers, restarting classes and more inconsistency in the lives of these students.
The JAG-K Success Academy started with 10 high school students in Wichita USD 259 schools in January. All 10 students were behind academically and in a variety of living arrangements, including group home and family placement. A JAG-K Success Academy Career Specialist was hired specifically for this group of students, regardless of where the students get placed in Kansas.
The JAG-K Success Academy addresses two primary causes of low academic success for students in care.
1) Up to two core classes are taught concurrently through an online learning system to ensure continuity and continued academic progress.
2) They have a consistent adult in their lives, helping them keep up with their academic work on-line and in the brick and mortar school, where they take elective classes and can participate in extra-curricular activities.
Since starting in January, seven of the 10 students are now on track to graduate. Fortunately, they have all also been enrolled in the JAG-K programs at their schools for an extra layer of support. There are numerous partners in this initial phase of the JAG-K Success Academy Partnership. I want to thank USD 259, St. Francis Community Services, Governor Jeff Colyer and the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) for their assistance. The pilot could not have launched without their support.
In an exciting recent development, the Kansas Legislature recently provided funding for an expansion of the pilot in 2018-19 with up to 75 students in different areas of the state. There has been strong bipartisan support for JAG-K and our new Success Academy. We appreciate the Governor, the Legislature, and our school partners for helping us improve the lives and futures of Kansas students.
JAG-K is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that partners with students facing various barriers to success, helping them graduate high school and then on to a successful career path.