Local News

Smart Start supports other agencies

Duplicating services isn't an effective way to better the community; instead, financially supporting local programs that already are working to help families and kids in Finney County is the goal of one local agency.

Date: 10/10/2009

Posted by Smart Start Southwest Kansas on 10/12/2009



Laurie Sisk/Telegram  Madella Williams reads all about apples during a recent Wee Readers Storytime at the Finney County Public Library.

Laurie Sisk/Telegram Madella Williams reads all about apples during a recent Wee Readers Storytime at the Finney County Public Library.

"We want to create opportunities for children to be healthy, and we hope the end result is that it'll set children up for success so that when they start school, they're better prepared to succeed," said Rebecca Clancy, executive director of Smart Start, one of 21 local agencies receiving funding from the Finney County United Way's annual campaign, which has a goal of raising $550,000 this year. "We don't want to reinvent the wheel -- we try to be involved in what's going on in the community already, to bridge gaps in services that might not be getting enough funding."

The director of the local children's agency said Smart Start's dollars are designed to be flexible to cater to the needs of a particular community.

The local children's agency aims to ensure that Kansas children are healthy and prepared to succeed in school and does so by providing flexible funding to communities and organizations that maintain programs and projects that focus on early childhood health and education for children from birth to age 5.

Clancy said her agency's receipt of funds is not only pumped back directly into local programs but also allows the educational organization that serves 12 other neighboring counties from its Garden City office to demonstrate local fiscal support so that it can acquire larger state funds.

"(The United Way's support) helps us secure bigger grant dollars that we bring to southwest Kansas," Clancy said. "Of course, each year these dollars are up for debate as the state government sees other shortfalls, so we work really hard to preserve those dollars so we can invest in our children here, build secure homes and have them go to school, so they can contribute to the local economy."

Though Smart Start serves organizations in neighboring counties including Grant, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Kearny, Lane, Morton, Scott, Seward, Stanton, Stevens and Wichita, local United Way dollars are used only for programs within Finney County, Clancy said.

The agency, which is fiscally sponsored by the Russell Child Development Center, hasn't yet identified where about $2,000 -- about 2 percent of its operating budget -- in United Way funding will go this year, but in past years, financial support has been directed to Lifetime Smiles, a dental program for kids operated through United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries, and Wee Readers, a story time program at the Finney County Public Library.

Clancy said she appreciates the United Way's help to meet the special challenges the regional agency faces in this part of the state.

"We serve a larger part of the state than some of the other Smart Starts in Kansas, and many of our citizens have to overcome transportation barriers, so we're very mobile, and we work really hard to overcome that," Clancy said. "We also work to be helpful to non-English speaking residents, because we do have a higher population of people who don't speak English or speak multiple other languages. We work really hard to translate materials and bridge language barriers to help families get what they need."

Other organizations receiving United Way funding include the following partner agencies: United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney and Kearny Counties, Community Day Care, Emmaus House, Spirit of the Plains CASA, Russell Child Development Center, Garden City Area Chapter of the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Miles of Smiles, Kansas Children's Service League Head Start, United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas, Catholic Social Service, Family Crisis Services Inc., Meals on Wheels, Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association, Garden City Family YMCA, The Garden City Recreation Commission Playground Program, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Santa Fe Trail Council Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland.

Smart Start

Contact: Rebecca Clancy, director

Address: 714 Ballinger St.

Phone: 275-1510

Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Web site: http://www.smartstartswks.org

For more information: http://www.smartstartswks.org