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Insurance, health care, jobs for youth top list of concerns in Wichita-area survey

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, at 7:11 p.m.

Health insurance, basic medical care for low-income families and job preparation for youth are among top concerns of Kansans living in Wichita and surrounding counties, according to survey results released Thursday by the United Way of the Plains, Via Christi Health and the Sedgwick County Health Department.

Residents also identified gang prevention and juvenile delinquency as an important community issue in the survey, conducted earlier this year at households in Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey and Reno counties. When asked about issues affecting their households or neighborhoods, more than 30 percent of respondents also cited treatment for life-threatening diseases as a major concern.

Among least important community needs identified by survey respondents were gambling addiction prevention and education, pollution and recycling, adult literacy programs and assistance reintegrating offenders into the community.

The survey is the first produced jointly by the three agencies in an effort to assess local social and health needs, according to a news release that announced its findings. In past years, each agency conducted its own assessment of community needs. The partnership led to reduced costs and maximized research efforts, officials said.

The results will be used to aid in planning, funding and coordinating United Way services.

“This assessment will help United Way and other groups understand local needs and make sure donated dollars are spent on the greatest needs,” United Way president Pat Hanrahan said in a statement.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with United Way and Via Christi as we all strive to improve the health of our community,” Sedgwick County Health Department director Claudia Blackburn said in the statement.

Survey answers were also gathered from leaders of the area’s largest businesses, elected or appointed government officials and heads of social services agencies. The findings include lists of community demographics, education information and statistics collected from Sedgwick, Butler, Cowley, Harper, Harvey, Kingman, Reno and Sumner counties.

To view the survey results online, go to www.unitedwayplains.org/2013-needs-assessment.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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