When KVC Health Systems welcomed Kansas City, MO-based nonprofit Niles Home for Children into its family four years ago, it promised to work with community partners to enhance Niles’ quality and sustainability. KVC continues fulfilling that promise, now expanding Niles into a broad continuum of care for children and families called KVC Missouri and appointing a new leader to nurture collaborations that will advance child and family wellbeing.
KVC President and CEO Jason Hooper has named Lindsey Stephenson, LSCSW, to become President of KVC Missouri effective June 1. The newly named nonprofit will include KVC Niles, which has a strong 138-year legacy of providing children’s behavioral health programs in the heart of Kansas City, MO, as well as a range of new community-based services for children and families such as pre-service training for adults to become foster and adoptive parents, training on trauma-informed caregiving to support youth with higher needs, mental health treatment, and education.
Bringing Innovation & Child Welfare Best Practices
Lindsey Stephenson has been with KVC for 15 years, currently as Vice President of Operations for KVC Kansas based in Olathe. In this role, she led a team that dramatically grew community support for children who are in foster care due to abuse or neglect, increasing the organization’s foster and adoptive families by 78%, from 500 to 892 homes. KVC Kansas sponsors more foster and adoptive families than any other organization in the state, making it more likely that children can be matched with a family in their home community rather than experiencing educational disruption. She also expanded community partnerships, such as collaborating with Global Orphan Project’s CarePortal to create Protective Homes in Kansas and working with community mental health centers and churches to strengthen families and safely prevent children from entering foster care.
Stephenson and KVC have been on the forefront of child welfare best practices including creating trauma-informed care, reducing residential care of children, and helping children and teens grow up in families through evidence-based family strengthening and mental health services. KVC’s historic first-ever creation of trauma-informed foster care was examined in a five-year study with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Child Trends and Dr. Glenn Saxe of New York University. In addition, KVC implemented the philosophies of the Family First Prevention Services Act decades before it was federal law. For example, KVC helped right-sized congregate care of Kansas children in foster care from 30% in 1996 to just 4% in 2013. Knowing that “children grow best in families,” KVC has sought residential treatment only for children with higher mental or behavioral health needs.
Stephenson led the transformation of KVC’s youth residential center in Kansas City, KS into a Qualified Residential Treatment Center (QRTP), in line with the Family First Act. This treatment center is licensed to care for up to 16 adolescent youth with mental and behavioral health needs at a time by offering comprehensive services and helping them successfully transition back to family-like settings with relative caregivers, foster family homes, or their birth family homes.
In addition to overseeing KVC Kansas’ Child Placing Agency (CPA) and QRTP, she oversees its Admissions, Quality and Data Management, and Community Outreach teams. Stephenson received her graduate and undergraduate degrees in social work from the University of Kansas.
Building on KVC Niles’ Legacy of Serving Children
“Samuel Eason is the compassionate man who founded Niles in 1883,” said Jason Hooper. “Niles’ commitment to serving children in the urban core has spanned across three different centuries. Our dream is to continue Eason’s legacy by building diverse community support to rally around children and families. The youth we serve at Niles eventually complete their treatment, and they need community-based programs that can meet their needs. For example, if there aren’t enough families who can care for children with higher needs, children stay in institutional settings longer than they should. That’s why I’m excited for Lindsey to lead KVC Missouri and expand these types of programs. She has an incredible track record of building new community support.”
“We think about mental health holistically at KVC,” said Stephenson. “We work to serve the whole family – not just the child – and we work with community partners to reduce silos. Whether a family needs support in their own home or during out-of-home care, KVC is driven to seek diverse perspectives, work inclusively, bridge gaps, and add capacity to meet needs.”
In late 2020, KVC Missouri received a new grant to provide services on behalf of the Missouri Department of Social Services. It is called the Foster Care Adoption Resource Services, Training and Consultation (FCARSTC) program. Through this grant, KVC Missouri is training adults who wish to become foster or adoptive parents. It is also providing elevated training for families willing to care for youth with higher acuity needs. Brook Town, FCARSTC Supervisor, is leading this work. To request our training calendar, contact her at email@example.com or (913) 444-2134.
KVC Niles’ current programming, including youth residential treatment and the Niles Prep K-12 school, will continue to be led by Cheryl Costabile, MA, LCPC, LPC. As Director of Administration, she oversees Niles’ operations, strategic planning and interdepartmental projects.
Both KVC Niles and the larger organization KVC Missouri invite the support of community members and organizations to help Missouri children and families, especially those facing poverty, traumatic experiences, or mental health needs. Learn more about becoming a corporate sponsor, a faith-based partner, a foster or adoptive parent, a financial supporter or a volunteer at www.kvcniles.org, missouri.kvc.org or by following KVC Niles on Facebook.
For media questions, contact Jenny Kutz at (913) 322-4994 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About KVC Health Systems
KVC Health Systems is a family of private, nonprofit organizations and a national leader in providing innovative, effective and compassionate care. KVC’s services include in-home family support, foster care, adoption, behavioral healthcare, and children’s psychiatric hospitals. KVC is accredited by the Joint Commission, the gold standard in healthcare. It is a member of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, a local partner of Sesame Street in Communities, and a consultant to child welfare agencies around the world. The organization has nearly 1,500 professionals working from 35 locations across the U.S. Over the last 50 years, KVC has made a positive difference in the lives of over 300,000 children and adults. Learn more at www.kvc.org.