foster care

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor/File photo

Abused and neglected children are again sleeping overnight in the offices of Kansas foster care contractors because homes cannot be found for them quickly enough.

 

A new law standardizing Kansas’ response to child-on-child sexual assault could cost $126,000 and result in more than 3,200 treatment referrals a year.

Gov. Laura Kelly signed legislation Friday that directs the Department for Children and Families to immediately refer a minor to treatment if the agency receives a report that the child sexually abused another child.

Twice, Rep. Jarrod Ousley introduced bills that would create a watchdog over the Kansas agency in charge of looking after children from troubled families.

It’s a massive department hounded by stories of overlooked abuse cases and foster children caught in punishing patterns of shifting from one temporary home to the next.

Ousley says he’s dropping the idea of a state child advocate. For now.

Nicole Nesmith’s voice shakes a little when she recalls the night her child, Phoenix, revealed a painful secret.

“Phoenix got really quiet and was like, ‘I have something to tell you and I’m really sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, but I’ve been cutting for about a month now.’”

So It Begins...

Jan 20, 2019

In her first week in Kansas' corner office, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly laid out her top priorities: ending litigation over school funding, expanding Medicaid coverage, addressing the crisis in the foster care system. Republican lawmakers are critical of her idea to free up the necessary cash by restructuring the state's pension debt. Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine gives his take on what that could mean for the 2019 legislative session. 


Kansas’ new governor wants to fix the state’s foster care. Fast.

Laura Kelly isn’t the first governor to highlight a crisis in child welfare, or to inject cash into the Department for Children and Families.

Expectations run high for Kelly, who sat on a task force examining the child welfare system for more than a year. She’s made fixing foster care a high priority — it was one of just three topics she homed in on in her State of the State address last week.

Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly announced Thursday that she’s replacing the head of the state’s embattled child welfare agency, and at the same time putting on hold new grants for private contractors to manage foster care and family preservation services.

Turmoil marks the troubled norm for foster care in Kansas.

Now political, financial and legal forces look poised to slam the system into a new level of chaos that makes seasoned child welfare professionals worried about a barrage of change.

This story was updated to include comments from the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

A lawsuit filed Friday contends Kansas violates foster children’s civil rights by moving them too often, adding to their trauma and restricting their access to necessary mental health treatment.

The National Center for Youth Law, Children’s Rights and Kansas Appleseed filed the suit against Gov. Jeff Colyer and the heads of the Department for Children and Families, the Department for Aging and Disability Services and the Department of Health and Environment.

A University of Kansas study linked tighter welfare rules to a growing foster care load.

The state agency overseeing those programs backed those same new rules. Now, it’s hired a research team to question the findings of the KU study.

Pages