United Way of the Plains

KMUW/File photo

The annual “point-in-time” count of homeless people in Wichita and Sedgwick County shows some changes in the population this year.

The survey found 593 people were homeless, which is a slight increase from last year, and the highest overall number since 2014.

Delane Butler, vice president of marketing for the United Way of the Plains, says this snapshot suggests more work needs to be done to address the local homeless problem.

United Way of the Plains is mailing out surveys this week in Sedgwick and Butler counties.

The nonprofit sends out surveys once every three years and uses the results to identify unmet social, health and human service needs. United Way then brings local government, business and nonprofit organizations together to raise money toward those community needs.

Delane Butler, vice president of marketing for United Way of the Plains, said the organization uses the results to determine where to focus its efforts.

The United Way of the Plains

Finding health and human services help in Kansas is now as easy as sending a text. The United Way of the Plains launched a new texting option for its 211 information helpline.

Here is how it works: all you need to do is send a text to 898211 with your zip code. A call center operator will answer the text and get more details about the situation.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

Kansas was recently ranked one of the top states in the country for number of people who do volunteer work. All this week, the KMUW News team is looking at some local volunteers who are making a difference here in Wichita.

Low-income older adults in Sedgwick County are helping struggling kids succeed in the classroom. They are volunteers in the Foster Grandparent program run by Catholic Charities.

KMUW’s Deborah Shaar recently met up with one grandma who serves at Curtis Middle School in Wichita.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Kansas is one of 46 states that have been receiving significant amounts of money each year from tobacco settlements. Nearly 20 years ago, when the settlement was decided, states were encouraged to use the money for cessation programs and tobacco-related health care costs. In Kansas, the money is funneled into an early childhood education endowment. But the programs that rely on this funding are worried that their ability to serve the community will be in jeopardy if large amounts of the settlement money continues to be diverted to the state’s general fund.