April is Autism Awareness Month

Pauline ShaferBy Pauline Shaver, MSW Practicum Student, University of Kansas

This April we celebrate Autism Awareness Month, honoring the diverse community of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Additionally, we recognize the unique challenges this community faces when navigating a neurotypical world.

Autism Defined

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that impacts how individuals interact with others, communicate, and behave. Social communication differences are characteristic of ASD, such as atypical emotional expression, difficulty with social cues, eye contact and unconventional empathetic communication. Additionally, restricted repetitive behaviors, (RRB) and interests are a feature of this diagnosis. RRBs manifest in many forms, such as rigidity in daily routines, stimming or repetitive movements and vocalizations, intense and specific interests and differences in sensory sensitivity.

As the term spectrum suggests, ASD impacts individuals in diverse ways and at varying levels of severity. This reality necessitates a sensitive and thoughtful approach, as treatment and support for ASD will look different for each person. Avoiding assumptions, educating oneself about an individual’s unique experience and unlearning stereotype-based preconceptions may prevent harm and increased stigma.

Common Barriers

AutismAs well as recognizing the diverse experiences within ASD community, acknowledgement of common barriers those diagnosed may face within neurotypical environments is essential. Within service provision and educational settings, research indicates a consistent presence of “misconceptions and inadequate knowledge about autism.”  In addition to factual fallacies about the diagnosis, a pervasive lack of understanding about supportive practices creates environments which are unresponsive to the unique needs of those with ASD. This serves to further stigmatize autism spectrum disorder, as individuals with ASD are often perceived negatively in unsupportive and uninformed spaces.

Combatting stigma requires an intentional effort to reeducate oneself and one’s organization, unlearning damaging misinformation and building competence in supportive practices. Additionally, barriers may be lessened by creation of autism-friendly spaces which provide increased social and physical accessibility. This may include access to quiet rooms, mindfulness of lighting for sensory sensitivity, and providing accommodations for communication differences.

Learn and Support

This Autism Awareness Month, we encourage a deeper exploration of autism, how the diagnosis uniquely impacts those around you, and recognition of the contributions of this community. In expanding our understanding, we can challenge damaging stereotypes, correct inaccurate assumptions, and create inclusive spaces for neurodivergent patients, co-workers, and loved ones.

For more information on inaccurate stereotypes,

Supportive resources in the Kansas City metropolitan area:

For information on screening and diagnosis:

Community Blood Center: Saving Lives in the Kansas City Area

Guest Post by Logan Marney, Account Manager, and Chelsey Smith, Director of Public Relations and Corporate Communication, Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City

A generation of Missouri and Kansas Midwesterners have grown up with Community Blood Center. They know if they, or someone they love needs blood in an emergency, Community Blood Center will make sure it’s there. That’s what we do, and it’s through the commitment of volunteer donors that Community Blood Center can maintain its heritage of service to the community.

Community Blood CenterSince opening in 1958, over one million patients have received blood that was donated at Community Blood Center neighborhood donor centers and blood drives. Each year, over 200,000 units of red blood cells, platelets and plasma are collected from donors across communities on both sides of the state line and used to treat thousands of local patients in need of life-saving care. Trauma victims, cancer patients, those struggling with chronic illnesses and many more rely on the generosity of blood donors each and every day. There is no substitute for human blood and the need for blood remains constant which means the need for blood donors does too.

Summer months are challenging times in which the local blood supply often drops as donors are busy with holidays, school breaks and vacations. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic further weakened the blood supply and continues to do so today, with the loss of many workplace and school blood drives. The need for blood donors, particularly youth and diverse blood donors, is growing every day.

Types of Donations:

  • Whole Blood Donation: A pint of blood is collected and later separated into two components: plasma, and red blood cells. The red blood cells are often necessary to treat those rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, car accidents and other types of traumas.
  • Apheresis Donation: Apheresis is an automated donation process that allows you to selectively donate only the blood components that are needed most, with the remaining blood being returned to you.
    • Red Cell Donation: Red cells are the blood component needed most by hospitals. Through apheresis two units of red cells can be collected, while the donor’s platelets and plasma are returned to them along with a saline solution. By separating the components onsite, the product can go out to the hospitals more quickly following lab testing.
    • Platelet Donation: Platelets can only be collected through apheresis and help patients who suffer from leukemia, cancer, aplastic anemia and other blood disorders.
    • Plasma Donation: Plasma contains vital clotting factors and is often needed by burn victims and patients with hematological disorders.

How To Get Involved:

Health Partnership Clinic is hosting an in-center blood drive from Monday July 24th to Sunday July 30th. Visit any one of the seven Community Blood Center locations (Olathe, Overland Park, Topeka, Kansas City – MO, Saint Joseph, Gladstone and Blue Springs) and give the registration desk group code: ED0Q to attribute your donation to Health Partnership Clinic. For appointments visit https://donate.savealifenow.org/donor/schedules/centers or contact Logan Marney at 816-977-7959 or lmarney@cbckc.org.

For more information about blood donation, donor eligibility, and Community Blood Center locations near you visit savealifenow.org.

My Experience as a 16-Year-Old Intern for Health Partnership Clinic

Lily HeffnerBy Lily Heffner, Incoming Senior, Shawnee Mission West High School

I am Lily Heffner, the 2022-2023 marketing intern for Health Partnership Clinic (HPC), and I am an incoming senior at Shawnee Mission West High School.

My internship started when I was recruited by Development and Marketing Manager Debbie Sparks at a Shawnee Mission School District Career Fair in August of 2022. At these career fairs, hosted at the Center for Academic Achievement, corporations and businesses come in, looking to give information to students about potential job offers, shadow opportunities, or internships. Going into the career fair, I was not really looking to get anything; I was only going for the experience. I saw the HPC booth and was drawn to it because along with filming, I am also interested in nursing. After talking to Debbie and exchanging information, I was interviewed by Catherine Rice, Vice President of Marketing and Outreach, and offered the marketing internship.

Even though I was aware of the School-Based Health Clinic at West, I soon learned that few students at Shawnee Mission West, including myself, really knew what HPC was. Through this internship, I gained professional knowledge and experienced firsthand how HPC operates at Shawnee Mission West.

What made the Clinic special to me is how much it is focused on providing quality health care to people in the community who would not otherwise be able to afford it. During the interviews, I got to ask HPC staff questions about how the Clinic runs, and it was heart-warming to find out that the Clinic has many options for people with and without insurance and can even help families set up a payment plan to pay for their medical expenses.

During my internship, I also learned about the importance of networking. Before I could film and edit the video, I was emailing many nurses, directors, doctors, teachers and HPC staff about when and where to film, what was expected of me, and who to talk to. Surprisingly, this took more time than the filming and editing did. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to talk to Paula Bunde, Coordinator of Health Services for Shawnee Mission School District, as well as the sweet and very knowledgeable pediatrician, Cheri El-Halawany, MD, FAAP.

I really enjoyed this internship because it was very individual, and I learned a lot because of this. Since I was younger, I have always been one to figure things out on my own, and this internship was a big step-up of that. My assignment was to make a video publicizing the Clinic at West. With this assignment, I was given all my resources and full creative control. It was challenging to jump into this video without any real guidelines or deadlines, just a task to complete. It taught me how projects like this are made in the real world, and I am incredibly grateful to the supportive team who taught me this and helped me achieve it. The project started out as an idea between the Marketing team and I, and now it has expanded into a video that I am proud to say I created. The video will be shared with all families and staff of Shawnee Mission West and the school district and on HPC’s website and YouTube channel.

Catherine oversaw my project and was a massive help to me. Thanks to her, I acquired my first internship and developed many skills that I will use in my future academic and career goals and journeys. This video also would not have been possible without friends and filming assistants Sullivan Tavernaro and Sydney Knoche, as well as my encouraging father and music maker, Scott Heffner.

This internship with HPC has made me many valuable connections and mentors and has taught me a plethora of lessons that I will continue to cherish as I continue my schooling and professional pursuits.

Stories from Coverage Gap

Alliance for a Healthy Kansas - Marissa AlcantarBy Marissa Alcantar, Storybank and Policy Specialist with Alliance for a Healthy Kansas

The Alliance for a Healthy Kansas is so grateful to work closely with Health Partnership Clinic on KanCare expansion. As a Federally Qualified Health Center, they provide critical services to Kansans in the coverage gap, who might otherwise not be able to get the health care they need. We continue to work together to expand our state’s Medicaid program, KanCare, with hope that someday soon Kansans in the coverage gap will have access to affordable health insurance.

KanCare expansion is an opportunity for Kansas to improve the lives and health of all of its citizens.

The benefits are clear:

  • Expansion will reduce health care costs for everyone by reducing uncompensated care.
  • It will provide insurance to 150,000 Kansans who currently make too much money to qualify for KanCare, but not enough to qualify for subsidies on the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Expansion will also support our rural communities and hospitals. More than 50 percent of Kansas’ rural hospitals are at risk of closing, and KanCare expansion is the single biggest thing our state can do to prevent these closures from happening.
  • KanCare expansion supports a healthy Kansas workforce. When more people have access to the physical and behavioral health care they need, there are more workers healthy enough to remain in or re-enter the workforce.
  • Expansion keeps Kansas economically competitive. All of our surrounding states have expanded their Medicaid programs, making them more attractive to businesses and employees.

As part of our advocacy efforts for expansion, the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas (AHK) Storybank Project highlights the stories and experiences of Kansans caught in the coverage gap. These individuals have the chance to put a face to the coverage gap crisis and tell others about what they’re dealing with and why expansion will help them.

AHK’s stories are used in a variety of ways. We share stories with advocates and supporters in emails, on our website, and through social media; we connect storytellers with media and reporters; and we share stories with Kansas legislators and policymakers to illustrate the need for expansion. Stories give Kansans in the coverage gap the chance to advocate for themselves in ways they feel most comfortable. The Alliance ensures that stories are used only in ways that the storyteller is comfortable with.

If you are someone in the coverage gap who would like to share your story, please reach out to Marissa at AHK (marissa@expandkancare.com) to get started. Becoming a storyteller is a critical role that you can play in affecting change in our state that will better the lives of thousands of Kansans.

Health Heart Ambassador Program: A useful tool in blood pressure monitoring.

By Anne Hayse, RDN, LD, RYT-200
Registered Dietitian – Community Health Info Coordinator I
Johnson County Department of Health and Environment

Do you have high blood pressure (also called hypertension) and need to get into the habit of checking your blood pressure at home? Maybe it makes you nervous or you want to be sure you are doing it correctly.

You may have heard that changes to your diet and physical activity can help lower your blood pressure but need help figuring out where to start.

Suppose any or all of those statements are true. In that case, we’d like to invite you to our FREE Healthy Heart Ambassadors (HHA) program, now offered by the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment in collaboration with the Health Partnership Clinic in Olathe.

What is the Health Heart Ambassador (HHA) Program?

Healthy Heart ProgramThe HHA Program is a four-month program to encourage self-monitoring and recording of blood pressure, as well as a heart-healthy diet.

 What benefits do participants receive?

  • In-person office hour visits to check in and receive support from an HHA
  • Weekly check-ins from their HHA via phone or email
  • Monthly nutrition education seminars (open to ALL community members who want to learn more about a heart-healthy lifestyle)
  • Education and support on how to properly self-monitor blood pressure
  • Your own blood pressure cuff if you need one

 What are the goals of the HHA Program?

  • Reduction in blood pressure
  • Better blood pressure management
  • Increased awareness of triggers that elevate blood pressure
  • Enhanced knowledge to develop healthier eating habits

Here’s how the American Heart Association defines high blood pressure or hypertension:

Healthy Heart Chart

High blood pressure doesn’t always have symptoms, meaning you may have high blood pressure and not even know it. The only way to be sure is to take your blood pressure regularly!

For more information, contact: Estella at 913-477-8348, estella.fondzeka@jocogov.org

Understanding Blood Collection and Use in Kansas City

Logan MarneyGuest Post by Logan Marney, B+, Account Manager and Donor Recruitment at Community Blood Center

Community Blood Center Logo

Who is Community Blood Center?

Community Blood Center was created BY the Kansas City community FOR the Kansas City community. Over sixty years ago, there was not a blood collection and distribution agency to serve the greater Kansas City area and its surrounding counties. Instead, hospitals were responsible for collecting their own blood. If you had a rare type of blood, or there was a shortage in your area, your life was in jeopardy. That is why a group of community-minded physicians, hospital and civic leaders decided to organize Community Blood Center–to serve the needs of patients in the community, and ultimately to save lives.

Community Blood Center: Blood Donation Community Blood Center: Volunteer Driver

Who does Community Blood Center Serve and Why is it Important?

Community Blood Center supplies 95% of the areas blood products to hospitals such as The University of Kansas Medical Center, Saint Luke’s Health Systems, Children’s Mercy, Advent Health, Olathe Health and many more. Because one in three individuals in their lifetime will need a blood product, it is important that is always available on the shelves. About 3,600 units are sent out to meet the demand of KC community hospitals EACH WEEK– that’s a lot of blood, right!?

Blood products may be used In a variety of ways such as treating patients with anemia, cancer, severe burns, traumas and during or post surgery. The amount of blood also varies depending on the reason they need it.

Community Blood Center: KC Wolf Donating at Arrowhead Stadium Community Blood Center: Ned Donating

Some examples are as follows:

Automobile Accident

50 units of blood

Heart Surgery

6 units of blood
6 units of platelets

Organ Transplant

40 units of blood
30 units of platelets
20 bags of cryoprecipitate
25 units of fresh frozen plasma

Bone Marrow Transplant

120 units of platelets
20 units of blood


20 units of plasma

The Life Cycle of a Unit of Blood

Community Blood Center: Blood BoxBlood products begin their life saving journey at one of the many Community Blood Center mobile or fixed blood collection sites when a volunteer donor presents. After completing a list of medical and travel eligibility questions, the volunteer donor is set up on the bed where their unit is collected by a trained phlebotomist.

One unit can save up to three lives!

The collected unit is then packed and tested in the laboratory to ensure the safety and quality of the product. Once testing is complete, it is taken by a Community Blood Center volunteer directly to an area hospital to be used in a lifesaving procedure! Red blood cells must be used within forty-two days, platelets only last five days and plasma may be frozen and stored for up to a year.

How to Get Involved

Throughout the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic, Community Blood Center has been in a chronic blood shortage. This is the longest recorded blood shortage and has impacted the supply of the entire country. 60% of the US population is eligible to donate but only 5% of those individuals actually do!

Ask yourself, what do you think is the number one reason why people don’t donate blood?

Many may think a fear of needles. It is actually that they are never personally asked. Having a conversation with a friend, family member or coworker and inviting them to donate may be just what they are missing! Blood donation takes just one hour and keeps the greater Kansas City area going strong! Interested in getting involved by attending a mobile blood drive or one of the seven conveniently located Community Blood Center locations or have questions about blood donation? Please contact me, Logan Marney, at 816-977-7959, lmarney@cbckc.org, or visit www.savealifenow.org.

Sited Source: www.savealifenow.org

Improving the Healthcare System Begins with Supporting Community Health Programs

Sierra MillerPost by Sierra Miller, Kansas City University of Medical Biosciences, DO/MA candidate 2021

Changing the Narrative

Healthcare is one of the most divisive and partisan topics in the current political climate. Most people can tell you a horror story of a long ER wait, an enormous medical bill, or some other way the healthcare system has failed them. But what you don’t commonly hear about are the amazing ways that healthcare can improve the life of a person, family or community.

Collectively we have a tendency to ignore things when they are going as we expect them to and focus on the negative or bothersome things that are interrupting our plans. We don’t usually think about the shoes on our feet, until they are causing a blister. Similarly, we are quick to double down on our own opinions when someone expresses an idea that seems different from our own. These reactions have brought us to a point where nearly everyone is dissatisfied with the current system in place, but we seem unable to have a productive conversation about approaches to improve the healthcare system.

Where We Agree

Today, I want to change that narrative and instead of focusing on where we differ in our approach to healthcare policy, I want to talk about where we are more likely to agree.

  • One thing we are all likely to agree on is that we don’t want to wait for seven hours in the waiting room of the local ER and then receive a bill for $2,500.
  • We don’t want to have to pay more than a $1,000 a month for prescription medications that are required to keep us alive.
  • We want to know that when we need healthcare we have quick and affordable access to it, and we want to know that the care we seek will be safe and effective.
  • And we also want to know that if we make any changes to the current system that we will benefit from those changes.

If you are shaking you head in agreement with me so far, don’t lose faith when you read the next sentence, hear me out. I believe that the first step toward improving all of these things is through supporting community health programs.

Community Health

When I use the term “community health” I intend to describe the intersection where both the medical and social needs of a group of people within a specific geographic area are met. The health of a community affects everyone who lives or works within it, including you. The community you live in affects your everyday life in more ways than you may realize.

You may not be the person who participates in the annual neighborhood garage sale or volunteers with the PTA, but chances are you do drive on the roads and go to the local grocery store. The health of your community impacts the safety of the roads you drive on, crime rates, educational opportunities, neighborhood green spaces, transportation options, what businesses are willing to operate in your neighborhood and therefore what resources you have access to.

Most of us can identify a few things in our own neighborhoods that we would wish to improve. My ask today, is that when considering how to improve the community you live in, you consider the importance of the health of the members within your community.

Improving the Team

Sierra Miller FamilyAnalogous to a sports team, a community is only as strong as the weakest players. If we want to improve the team, we can see the biggest gains by investing in the players who have the most room for improvement. Community Health Centers (CHC) like Health Partnership Clinic are designed to improve the health of the communities they serve. They function by partnering community resources and federal funding to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for the medically underinsured population.

They provide more than just access to a primary care physician, they also bring improved access to dental care, behavioral healthcare and many other social health services.

Right now, you might be thinking I have insurance, I can pay my bills, or I don’t need this in my neighborhood. I assure you that improving the access for those who might be one paycheck or medical bill away from not being able to pay their rent will have trickle down effects to services you do use.

The Community Health Center Model

The Community Health Center (CHC) model was brought to the United States in the 1950s by Dr. Geiger. From its inception, the CHC model has proven to have compounding health effects throughout all areas of the communities that they serve. They allow patients continuity of care and improved management of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90 percent of the $3.3 trillion spent on annual healthcare expenses goes toward managing chronic and mental health conditions.

Helping patients manage these diseases in a primary care setting reduces disease progression and complications rates. Appropriate management of these conditions in an outpatient setting also helps to relieve hospitals from having to function as a primary care physicians office and reduces some of the dramatic economic burden associated with managing chronic diseases in an acute setting. This means reduced costs, reduced waiting time, reduced physician burnout, reduced morbidity and mortality.

This also means that when you have healthy members in your community, you have more people who can contribute to the economy. You see healthier children who are more prepared for their education and to become future contributing members of society. When there is stronger economic strength you also see lower crime rates, more development and improved quality of life.

Solutions to our Biggest Problems

I truly believe that improving community health is vital to changing the narrative we are hearing and experiencing in today’s healthcare system. That is why as a third-year medical student I have chosen to work in community health centers and plan to become a primary care physician. I want to be able to serve my community and be part of the solution. I believe that focusing on our shared interests is the only way forward if we want to change the current healthcare climate and improve the communities that we live in.

When we do this, I believe the solutions to many of our biggest problems will also start to fall into place.

Sierra Miller is a third-year Osteopathic Medical Student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in the Community Health Center Track and is a dual degree student completing her Masters in Bioethics. Sierra has completed two months of rotations as a student in the areas of Family Medicine and Community Health Center Administration at Health Partnership Clinic in Olathe.

Housing affordability’s role in creating a healthy and thriving Johnson County

August 4-10 marks National Health Center Week. On Sunday, Aug. 3 is Social Determinants Day. In today’s value-based care environment, Health Partnership Clinic is accountable for improving health outcomes and lowering costs. To achieve these goals and succeed in such an environment, we need to better understand our patients to address both their clinical and non-clinical needs and impact the root causes of health, including patients’ health behaviors, health outcomes and health costs.

The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people live, work, play and age. They can encompass socioeconomic conditions, environmental conditions, institutional power and social networks. Understanding patients’ social determinants allows us to transform care with integrated services to meet the needs of our patients, address the social determinants of health and demonstrate the value it brings to patients, communities and payers.

Julie BrewerPost written by Julie Brewer, Executive Director, United Community Services of Johnson County

The time has come to re-think how we define a thriving community.

Typically, we focus on economic development, beautification efforts, and quality schools. But are Johnson County communities thriving if an increasing number of residents are being priced out of the opportunity to live here? Are we a thriving and healthy community if one in three community members reported being emotionally upset due to their finances sometimes, usually or always in the past 12 months in the most recent community health needs assessment survey?

In Johnson County, regardless of whether renting or owning, one in four households (25 percent) are cost burdened.

Cost burdened means your housing expenditures are more than 30 percent of your household income. Approximately 36 percent of households in Johnson County are single households or single head of households. In addition to housing costs, medical bills, credit cards, and utilities rounded out the top list of what Johnson County households reported as cost they worry about how to pay.

Social DeterminantsHow does stress impact our health and overall well-being? Approximately one in five community members reported experiencing physical symptoms (upset stomach, headache, etc.) due to their finances sometimes, usually or always in the past 12 months.

Years of public health research indicates that 50 percent of what creates your health outcomes can be attributed to social and economic factors, and your surrounding environment. These are called the social determinants of health.

A community collaborative call the Johnson County Health Equity Network has taken up the challenge to address health equity issues in our community.

Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.

The priority health issue the Johnson County Health Equity Network has identified for our community is housing affordability. The Network’s Leadership Team includes community organizations such, decision-makers, and community members impacted by issues such as housing affordability. The collaboration is being facilitated by United Community Services of Johnson County (UCS) and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.  The Health Partnership Clinic is an important partner in this work and serves on the leadership team.

Since 2014, cost of living for Johnson County residents has increased by double digits.

Single households have seen a 24 percent increase in costs and all other household types have experienced a 15-19 percent increase. Housing costs is a key component of this increase. Since 2006, we have seen the proportion of homes in Johnson County available for purchase under $250,000 go down as the proportion of homes valued above $250,000 increase. Rents have increased by more than 29 percent during this same period.

If these trends continue, will young adults and families be able to live here? Will longtime residents be able to retire here? A thriving community needs a healthy, vibrant workforce for the wide array of jobs that enable a community to function, grow and be a desirable place to call home.

This past June, UCS gathered more than 200 community members to learn more about the Johnson County Health Equity Network and housing affordability needs, concluding with Call to Action opportunities. To learn more visit: https://ucsjoco.org/human-service-summit/

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2017 1-year estimates; Economic Policy Institute, Family Budget Calculator, 2017; Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Estimates, 2017, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment Survey

Effective ways to protect children from the risk of child abuse and neglect.

Kansas Children's Services League Logo - Stopping Child Abuse

Jamie VanCompernolle

Guest Post by Jamie VanCompernolle, LMSW, Assistant Director Healthy Families, Kansas Children’s Service League

We all want to live in neighborhoods and communities where families are safe and children thrive. But as individuals, sometimes we aren’t sure where to start to make that desire a reality.

The Center for the Study of Social Policy, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have spent decades researching the causes of child abuse and neglect and the most effective methods of preventing it. Their research has identified Five Protective Factors that reduce or eliminate risk and promote healthy development and well-being of children and families.

Protective factors can serve as buffers helping parents find resources, supports or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively even under stress. The following list[i] outlines each of the Five Protective Factors and simple actions each of us can do to help promote these in our own families and communities.

1. Parental Resilience

Parents who can cope with the stresses of everyday life, as well as an occasional crisis, have resilience – the flexibility and inner strength to bounce back when things are not going well. This ability serves as a model of coping behavior for their children as well as helping them to develop resilience at a young age.

You can support Parental Resilience by:

    • Helping parents find ways to make time for themselves and practice self-care;
    • Teaching concrete strategies for relaxation such as deep breathing; and
    • Working with parents to anticipate difficulties and problem solve.

2. Social Connections

Parents with a network of emotionally supportive friends, family and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. Research has shown that parents who are isolated and have few social connections are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect.

You can encourage Social Connections by:

    • Planning events where parents can meet other families and build new connections;
    • Creating opportunities for parents to be a part of planning social events that reflect their interests or culture; and
    • Hosting special outreach activities for fathers, grandparents and other extended family members.

3. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

Parents who understand the usual course for child development are more likely to be able to provide their children with respectful communication, consistent rules and expectations, developmentally appropriate limits and opportunities that promote independence. They are less likely to become frustrated and resort to harsh discipline out of lack of knowledge.

You can promote Parenting Knowledge by:

  • Encouraging parents to see the world from their child’s point of view;
  • Talking to parents about what children typically do at different ages; and
  • Encouraging parents to participate in support groups or parenting classes to learn more.

4. Concrete Support in Times of Need

Families whose basic needs (food, clothing, housing and transportation) are met have more time and energy to devote to their children’s safety and well-being. When parents do not have steady financial resources, stable housing, lack health insurance or face a family crisis, their ability to support their children’s healthy development may be at risk.

You can provide Concrete Support by:

    • Helping parents learn how to navigate service systems, ask for help and advocate for themselves to receive needed support;
    • Distributing local resource guides with information on community resources for things such as food banks, mental health centers, homeless services, etc.; and
    • Encouraging parents to call the Parent Helpline (1-800-CHILDREN) or download the Parent Helpline app to find resources to meet specific needs.

5. Social-Emotional Competence of Children

Parents and caregivers grow more responsive to children’s needs – and less likely to feel stressed or frustrated – as children learn to tell parents what they need and how parental actions makes them feel rather than “acting out” difficult feelings.

You can urge Social-Emotional Competence by:

    • Engaging parents and children in a game or art activity that helps children learn to express themselves in ways other than words;
    • Creating a lending library of picture books about coping with different emotions for parents to read with their children; and
    • Teaching parents which social and emotional skills children develop at different ages.

I hope this list will spur ideas that can be implemented by individuals, neighborhoods, schools, churches and communities. Supporting families and ensuring parents have the knowledge, skills and resources they need are effective ways to protect children from the risk of child abuse and neglect. We all can play a role in building healthier communities and creating hope for families!

[i] This information is based on the annual prevention resource guide published by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect.

About Kansas Children’s Service League

Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL) is a statewide not-for-profit agency with 125 years of experience keeping kids safe and strengthening families in Kansas. KCSL serves more than 40,000 children and their families each year through a variety of community-based and child abuse prevention programs. KCSL’s mission is to protect and promote the well-being of children. Our services and advocacy efforts focus on preventing child abuse, strengthening families and empowering parents and youth. KCSL is also the Kansas chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America and Circle of Parents and a Kansas multi-site system of Healthy Families America. KCSL sponsors Healthy Families, a home visitation program that provides supports to struggling families of young children, in 23 Kansas counties including Johnson, Miami, Wyandotte and Leavenworth Counties. Learn more at kcsl.org/HealthyFamilies.aspx.

To DO or not to DO? A quick comparison of the philosophies of Osteopathic and Allopathic Medicine

Guest post by Rachel Olsen, Medical Student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

Rachel Olsen is a third-year Osteopathic Medical Student at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in the Community Health Center Track and an Associate Adjunct Professor at Johnson County Community College. Rachel completed four months of rotations as a student in the areas of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Family Medicine and Community Health Center Administration at Health Partnership Clinic in Olathe.

Rachel Olsen, DO Kansas City University Logo

When I was asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, I was dead set on becoming a scientist and professor. My dreams were filled with a future composed of hours spent at the lab bench or microscope discovering incredible cures for the ailments of modern man. Though my own plans did not originally include hopes of becoming a doctor, as so many have, I was drawn to the art of medicine during my graduate school years.

Little did I know how complex such a decision would become and how much my life would be changed.

I was faced with not only deciding which schools to apply to, but even more so with the decision as to whether I would become an Allopath (MD) or an Osteopath (DO).

The question boiled down to: which medical philosophy fit my own goals and beliefs? To answer this, I had to consider carefully these two pathways and make sense of the similarities and differences between them. Upon setting out on this quest I literally had NO idea what a DO was. I had never heard of any type of Doctor aside from MDs.

So, I took it upon myself to do some research, something I was very familiar with, and find out more. I am certain I was not alone in this shocking realization that there was an entire medical philosophy to which I was completely naïve. I decided I just had to share a little of what I have learned along the way in hopes of helping potential patients in choosing what they want in a physician and what will meet their personal needs and expectations in the realm of medical care.

Allopathic and Osteopathic Schools

Allopathic and Osteopathic schools alike produce licensed physicians whose training begins with foundational scientific knowledge. In many ways both pathways, and the physicians they graduate, are extremely similar. Both degrees build upon basic science to develop the methodology and techniques used in clinical medicine.

Graduates of either program may choose from the same list of potential specialties, ranging from primary care to orthopedic surgery, and are licensed to prescribe medication. However, the greatest differences exist in the approach to practicing medicine, as well as some of the tools used to do so.

I thought a simple comparison table may help clarify some of these aspects.

Allopathic Osteopathic
Philosophy Focused on diagnosis and treatment of disease Holistic approach focused on prevention of disease in addition to treatment
Education Bachelor’s degree followed by four-year post-graduate medical program Bachelor’s degree followed by four-year post-graduate medical program
Additional Training 200+ additional hours of training in Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy (OMT) which uses hands-on movement of muscles and joints to enhance the inherent ability of the body to heal itself.
Board Exams and Licensing USMLE series: Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 COMLEX series: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3

Often also complete the USMLE series

After Graduation Residency of three or more years dependent on specialty Residency of three or more years dependent on specialty

Ultimately, practitioners of either philosophy are capable of providing high quality health care to patients in need. Both tracks spend the same number of years in training and have the same fundamental foundation in the basic sciences. The addition of the OMT therapy gained in the Osteopathic track and the perspective of viewing the patient in a holistic manner simply deliver additional tools and techniques to provide for the needs of the patient.

My Choice…

For these very reasons, I chose to pursue the Osteopathic philosophy of training, as I hoped to use every possible tool and technique available to improve the health and well-being of my future patients. I am confident I made the correct choice and have been thrilled to have the amazing opportunity to train in such an incredible profession. I hope that future patients may come to better appreciate Allopaths and Osteopaths alike and understand that, regardless of the title or degree, all physicians have the patient’s health and well-being as their top priority.