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SOAR is available in all 50 states. Please select your state to view information or find SOAR assistance for your state.

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SOARing in Kansas

The SOAR effort in Kansas is an initiative designed to increase access to SSI/SSDI for eligible adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Individuals interested in training are encouraged to reach out to the State Team Lead or SOAR TA Center Liaison using the contact information above for more information about SOAR.
SOAR was first introduced to Kansas in 2007 and in 2009 became a statewide effort under the leadership of KDADS (formerly known as SRS).  Between 2009 – 2014, over 345 people went through trainings in Kansas, including staff from community mental health centers, other community based service providers, faith-based groups, substance use providers, law enforcement, city and state officials, veterans administration staff, and hospital staff. Since 2009,  Kansas has maintained a cumulative approval rate of 81%

Kansas SOAR State Team

State Team Lead(s):
Melissa Bogart-Starkey
Phone: 785-296-0620

Jonathan Pendergrass
Phone: 785-217-8088

TA Center Liaison: Amanda Starkey
Phone: (518) 439-7415 x5251

Expectations of Participation in SOAR

Individuals may become eligible to utilize the SOAR model by completing the SOAR Online Course. Prior to beginning the online curriculum, individuals are encouraged to contact the State Team Lead or SOAR TA Center to discuss their training needs and expectations.

Expectations of SOAR-trained Caseworkers

  • Serve as appointed representative for the purpose of applying for SSI/SSDI. Representation includes “standing in” for the applicant, responding to questions, receiving copies of all mail sent to the applicant, and communicating back and forth with SSA and DDS**
  • Complete all required SSA forms for SSI and SSDI, submit online whenever possible
  • Collect medical records from providers who have treated the applicant
  • Write a comprehensive SOAR Medical Summary Report that includes psychosocial, treatment, and functional information that is co-signed, if at all possible, by a physician or psychologist who has seen the individual.
  • Conduct ongoing outreach and engagement with the individual to stay connected throughout the process
  • Track applications and outcomes, including number of applications completed, approvals/denials, and time to decision
  • Report outcomes on at least an annual basis
  • Actively collaborate with Local SOAR Leads
  • Participate in refresher courses and quality review of applications
  • SOAR caseworkers are encouraged to send redacted versions of their first few Medical Summary Reports to the SOAR TA Center for quality review before submission to DDS
** No fees will be collected for assisting with the application
Marking and submitting SOAR applications is contingent upon following the local SOAR process.
SOAR-trained individuals will also be connected with the State Team Lead, the SOAR TA Center Liaison, and Local SOAR Leads. Any of these persons may be contacted for information or questions at any time about SOAR and they are available to assist with connections to SSA and DDS offices in the state.

Outcomes Tracking

It is expected that SOAR-trained caseworkers will enter data about their SSI/SSDI applications using the SOAR model as they complete each application. This data will be entered in the SOAR Online Application Tracking (OAT) program. Training in the use of OAT is available and the SOAR TA Center can answer questions about the OAT program.
The SOAR TA Center will review data periodically and follow up with SOAR caseworkers regarding this data and quality review of applications.

Local Leads

Melissa Bogart-Starkey
Topeka, KS
Phone: 785-296-0620 

Amy Dean
Topeka, KS
Phone: 785-342-0600 

Tara Deweerdt
Saint George, KS
Phone: 620-757-1867 

Lara Dvorak
Kansas City, KS
Phone: 913-871-7600 

R.A.  McMillin-Beckman
Junction City, KS
Phone: 785-717-9630 

Robyn  Nienstedt-Whitaker
Emporia, KS
Phone: 620-208-3021 

Ashley Raletz
Topeka, KS
Phone: 913-683-5104 

Benito Rivera-Madrid
Hays , KS
Phone: 785-625-2400 

Kim Williams-Gaston
Topeka, KS
Phone: 785-554-7894 


SOAR for Children Leads

Tami Hurley
Topeka, KS
Phone: 316-660-7826 

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