Jenn Preston is a familiar face, but new employee of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. She joined the staff this month after working for the Kansas Children’s Service League for six years.
Preston's work with the Kansas Children's Service League, commonly called KCSL, began in Topeka as a family support specialist and assessment coordinator with Healthy Families. In 2010, she became supervisor of the Healthy Families Douglas County program — a partnership between KCSL and the Health Department — and began working from the Health Department.
Due to state funding cuts, KCSL was no longer able to support the program and, therefore, the Health Department acquired the Healthy Families Douglas County program and hired Preston as supervisor and assessment coordinator.
Preston said what she enjoys most about her work is that it’s about primary prevention. “We meet with families who are pregnant or have newborns to establish a connection BEFORE any negative outcome occurs with the child. The fact that our work with the family is during the most formative brain and health development of the child fascinates and motivates me every single day,” she said.
Preston has been a state-approved trainer for “Mandated Report/Child Abuse and Neglect Training” for about three years. She provides training to licensed child care providers, youth camp counselors and Lawrence Community Shelter employees, among others. She also is a peer reviewer for Healthy Families America. As a reviewer, she conducts on-site visits to see if facilities are meeting accreditation standards and her recommendations are sent to a national panel for consideration.
Preston graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family life and a master’s degree in social work administration and advocacy practices. For three years, Preston was a research assistant for a KU Early Childhood Development study, and then she was a parent educator for Parents as Teachers in Northeast Kansas.
When she's not working, Preston enjoys movies, reading, traveling and spending time with her godsons Jack, 7, and Cole, 9. She also adores her dog, Freida, a 6-year-old Beagle/hound mix who was a stray. “She truly found me,” Preston said.