The story of Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas has always been a story of people - people with developmental
disabilities who live in northwest Kansas, and the people who serve them. Throughout the years, both staff and person's
served have come and gone, but DSNWK's message has always remained constraint. To serve people as close to home as possible,
offering them opportunities to become more fully interdependent with their communities and reach their highest potential.
There are many great landmarks throughout DSNWK's history. It is not possible to chronicle that history, that involvement,
in its entirety. Here are a few highlights to look back on:
In 1967, Homer B. Reed Adjustment and Training Center, named after Dr. Homer B. Reed who was instrumental in starting the
local ARC, was started. It was one of the first workshops serving people with disabilities in Kansas, and one of 40 in the
United States. 10 to 15 individuals were served at first. By 1969, 25 people were served and housing was available for both
men and women.
In 1973, Robert E. Smith was hired as executive director and he negotiated a contract with the state of Kansas which allowed
the Center to begin utilizing federal dollars through Title XVI. Board members authorized the purchase of a renovated
facility at 317 West 13th and 60 people were receiving services. Later that year, services were expanded to Hill City by
merging with Kobler Developmental Center and to Atwood with the start up of Prairie Developmental Center in 1975, where
services were initially provided to 13 individuals from the nine-county area.
Because of the outstanding response of people in the western half of the 18-county region, the organization changed its name
to Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas in 1976. The Board was restructed at that time, assuring that representatives
from each county funding the programs would be included on the Board. That same year, a comprehensive service delivery
system was started for children from birth to six years in eight western counties.
In 1979-80, DSNWK started two new programs. Operation LINK, which was one of the first independent living projects in the
country, provided services in the eastern tier of counties. DSNWK also initiated the Shadow Training Program as a model of
In 1981-82, DSNWK, under the new leadership of Jim Blume, continued to expand its opportunities for people with
disabilities. Project Lifestyle, was initiated. This concept provided for an innovative model of small group homes which
capitalized on the strengths of the family and the learning process which occurs in such a setting. Also in 1981, ground was
broken for the new Kobler Center for the Handicapped, new Administrative Offices, and a Textile Manufacturing Plant in Hays.
DSNWK's long range goal to address the needs of aging consumers resulted in the development of a Life Management Program at
Reed Center in 1985.
In 1989, with the closing of the Norton State Hospital, DSNWK opened three 6-bed ICF/MR homes, and a developmental center in
Norton called Frontier Developmental Center. Later that year, DSNWK opened three 6-bed ICF/MR homes and a developmental
center in Russell called Pioneer Developmental Center.
New In-Home Family Support services were made available in 1991. This service allowing new, creative and flexible services
to be provided to persons with disabilities while still remaining in their homes. That same year, the College For Living
Program was developed. The College for Living encompassed those services designed to teach personal and social adjustment
In 1993-95, expansion continued as DSNWK opened an office in Oakley and created Wheatland Developmental Center in Colby. Two
years later, DSNWK expanded by providing services in Hoxie.
In keeping with provisions of the Developmental Disabilities Reform Act, the Kansas Department of SRS designated DSNWK as
the Community Developmental Disability Organization (CDDO) for all of the 18 counties of northwest Kansas in 1996. DSNWK
works with other affiliate agencies in this area to ensure quality services that are cost effective and easy to access.
In 1998, DSNWK Completed a one million dollar renovation project of Reed Developmental Center through a Community
Development Block Grant.
2001 marked new additions to DSNWK's Supervised Living program as a new Medically Fragile Home was established in Hays to
better meet the needs of those individuals with more severe medical challenges. That same year, DSNWK opened a new home in
the country in Hays. The home was established to better serve the needs of people with behavioral issues.
As Jim Blume completed his final years with DSNWK, ground was broken on a new transit facility in Hays with completion of
the building in 2004. This facility now houses 10 public transportation vehicles, including the Access vans, Carevan and
Health Express shuttles. Gerard L. Michaud was named new DSNWK President the next year in 2005.
In 2008, DSNWK eliminated or reduced services in several locations and programs. DSNWK closed Wheatland Developmental Center
in Colby. Individuals receiving services in Colby were offered the opportunity to receive services in Atwood. DSNWK also
consolidated group homes raising most to maximum capacity and closed a group home in Hays, Other eliminations included the
closing of a ceramics shop in Atwood and eliminating DSNWK's Customer Connection system.
In 2008 - 2009, DSNWK continued to reduce service opportunities with the closing of 3 group homes in Hays and Hill City.
DSNWK also consolidated several departments and management positions due to budget reductions.
In January of 2011, DSNWK opened Esther's Place in Hays, a new group living arrangement built for DSNWK by Vaughn McMurtrie,
in the memory of his late wife Esther.
Today, DSNWK continues to offer people with developmental disabilities the opportunity to plan their lives and live a life
of dignity, interdependence and personal satisfaction in the community.