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Sarah Unruh ’12

KIPCOR receives grant to help lessen divorce impact on kids

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – “Divorce” might not be the first word that comes to mind in connection with “health.”

However, the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) has recognized – through the award of a $23,425 grant – the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) at Bethel College for exactly that. Or, more specifically, for a proposal on divorce impact education.

“The evidence is clear,” said KIPCOR Director Gary Flory. “There have been hundreds, maybe thousands, of studies showing the negative impact of parents in conflict on the physical and emotional health of children.”

KIPCOR will receive the funds through the Kansas Health Foundation’s Recognition Grants program.

Recognition Grants expand KHF support to a broad range of health-related organizations throughout the state. The program is targeted for organizations and agencies that propose “meaningful and charitable projects or initiatives that fit within the KHF mission of improving the health of all Kansans.”

In addition to projects, KHF also seeks to support initiatives that focus on promoting policy, systems and environmental transformations that support health.

“Each year, we are amazed at the incredible projects being done by organizations across Kansas,” said Steve Coen, KHF president and CEO. “This grant program allows us to support these innovative and impactful community initiatives and recognize the groups and individuals making them a reality.”

KIPCOR has been working for some time in Harvey County to promote and facilitate mediation (rather than a court battle) in divorce cases that involve minor children, Flory said. Most commonly at issue are visitation and custody rights, commonly referred to as “parenting plans.”

Recent changes in Kansas have put some roadblocks in the way of supporting mediation for low-income families but judges “don’t want to stop mediation when it works so well,” Flory said. “In fact, the court would like to provide additional options for families to help minimize the impact on children that often accompanies child custody conflicts.”

Funding from the KHF Recognition Grant will be used to support continuing mediation as well as additional options for divorce and post-divorce cases in Harvey County and extend it to McPherson County (i.e., the 9th Judicial District).

KIPCOR will also have staff trained in “divorce impact education” for parents, based on successful programs in several other states.

The idea is “to channel the parties into what is most effective for the parents” while lessening the impact of divorce on children, Flory said.

“We hope this can be a pilot, a model, for other judicial districts,” he added. “We want to help parents work out their differences without going to court.”

The successful KIPCOR proposal was part of approximately $1.2 million that the Kansas Health Foundation awarded this year to help organizations accomplish 66 different projects. KHF allocates up to $2 million each year for Recognition Grants.

The Kansas Health Foundation, a private philanthropy based in Wichita but statewide in focus, has a mission “to improve the health of all Kansans” by promoting health and wellness in schools, neighborhoods and workplaces; growing leaders in Kansas communities and inspiring decision-makers; acting as a voice for healthy public policy; and starting and fostering community philanthropy.

To learn about more KHF, see www.kansashealth.org, follow KHF on Twitter @KansasHealthOrg or visit Facebook.com/KansasHealthFoundation.

For more information about KIPCOR, see www.kipcor.org, or about Bethel College, www.bethelks.edu.