- Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Two of Kansas’ largest counties are looking for funding to keep their sex education programs going after state officials declined to renew federal grants.

Wyandotte and Johnson counties have used money from Personal Responsibility Education Program grants since 2010 to provide sex education courses in area schools with the goal of preventing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The funding goes toward abstinence-based education that also covers contraception and consent, The Kansas City Star (https://bit.ly/2au31Df ) reported.

Earlier this year, Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials told the two counties that the state wouldn’t apply for the grants this year. Both counties are funded through the 2016-17 school year.

Department spokeswoman Cassie Sparks said it opted not to apply for funds so it could stop operating as a middle-man by passing money along to local departments. Sparks said the local departments will have a transition period to apply for funds.

The funding is set to run out in 2017.

Wyandotte and Johnson county officials say they weren’t prepared for the transition, and that these types of grant applications take months.

Greg Stephenson, personal health services manager for Wyandotte County’s public health department, said state officials made the decision without any prior discussion.

“The state’s the one who introduced this, and we jumped right on it,” Stephenson said of the federal grant program. “We’re not sure what we’re going to do.”

Wyandotte County leads the state in teen pregnancy and four types of sexually transmitted infections.

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment director Lougene Marsh said the county could be in a position to find funding locally, but that prospect is “uncertain.”

According to Marsh, Johnson County may lose some of the progress it has made in reducing teen pregnancy if sex education is allowed to disappear from the county.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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