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Kansas Foster Care Fix-It Panel Still Looking For Repairs

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at ... earlier at news that children slept in foster care contractors’ offices because foster homes had no room. Department for Children and Families secretary Gina Meier-Hummel said some of ...

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 A task force formed to fix Kansas’ troubled foster care system relied largely on the ideas of a lone member to meet a deadline for preliminary suggestions, reflecting the daunting nature of its job and some troubles within the panel The Child Welfare System Task Force, formed in June 2017, submitted its first report, including preliminary recommendations, to the legislature on MondayBut lawmakers only scheduled 35 minutes to discuss that first report at their most recent meetingSome task force members said that wasn’t enough to encourage any meaningful progress“I was personally a little shocked by the little amount of time that was set on the agenda for the day to talk about it,” said RepJarrod Ousley, a Merriam Democrat and one of the most vocal backers of the bill that created the task force“I was hoping to have a more thorough discussion.” RepLinda Gallagher, a Republican from Lenexa, was the only task force member to present a list of recommendations at the December meeting, the group’s last before the preliminary report was dueHer list of concerns and recommendations, with a few additions, appeared in the report sent to the legislature on MondayGallagher was surprised there wasn’t more robust discussion of the preliminary findings  ““I’m a little bit disappointed that we don’t have a better formal report to the legislature,”  she said“But it is very early, so I think a lot of people just thought we’re not far enough into it yet to really have very much to say at this point.” Much has changed for the task force since its first meeting in AugustPhyllis Gilmore was the embattled former head of the Department for Children and Families and a frequent target of criticism about Kansas’s struggling foster care systemShe retired December 1 A member of the task forced, social worker and former DCF administrator Gina Meier-Hummel, took her place And on Tuesday, the task force’s vice chairman, RepSteve Alford, R-Ulysses, left the panel after criticism of racist remarks he made at a town hall earlier this monthHe also resigned from the House Children and Seniors Committee, which sponsored the original bill establishing the task force and is one place where potential legislative fixes to the child welfare system’s problems could originateOn Monday, Secretary Meier-Hummel and LtGovJeff Colyer announced DCF is looking for more money to address some of the more dramatic issues that surfaced during the task force’s four meetings, including kids sleeping in foster care contractors’ offices and an increasing number of kids entering foster careOusley said he was encouraged to hear the administration is making child welfare a priority “Things are still moving,” he said“This report may not be all I wanted it to be, but that shouldn’t stop us from moving forward.” Editor's note: A previous of this story misstated Jarrod Ousley's party affiliationRep Ousley is a Democrat.    Madeline Fox is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politicsYou can reach her on Twitter @maddycfoxKansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to  Tags: Kansas News ServiceKansas governmentfoster carefoster childrenKansas LegislatureSpotTweetShareGoogle+Email Related Content Kansas Child Welfare Wants More Money So Children Can Sleep In Homes Instead Of Offices By Madeline Fox • Jan 8, 2018 Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service   Kansas’ troubled child welfare agency asked lawmakers Monday for money to solve mounting problems -- foster kids sleeping in offices, children lost in the system, and a skyrocketing caseload Legislators and advocates expressed outrage earlier at news that children slept in foster care contractors’ offices because foster homes had no roomDepartment for Children and Families secretary Gina Meier-Hummel said some of the requested money would go toward holding beds open for hard-to-place kids Kansas Task Force Hears That Some Issues With Foster Care System Aren’t New By Madeline Fox • Dec 13, 2017 Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service Descriptions of an underfunded, under-resourced foster care system short on child placement options sounded familiar to Kansas lawmakers and child welfare advocates at a task force meeting this weekBut the events described Tuesday actually played out 30 years earlier, when a 1989 class-action lawsuit — alleging that the state’s foster care system violated the rights of Kansas children — raised issues that eventually led to the current privatized system New DCF Leader Prioritizes Accountability In Kansas Child Welfare System By Madeline Fox • Dec 12, 2017 File Photo / Kansas Public Radio Listen Listening.. / 4:24 The new secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families has come in promising a thorough review of the agency, staffing changes and more accountability following allegations and outrage about problems in the state’s foster care system

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