COMMON SENSE APPROACHES TO BUILDING A BETTER SYSTEM

Kansas’ child welfare system was making headlines in 2017 when the state’s legislature approved the establishment of the Child Welfare System Task Force. Its charge was to study the general administration of child welfare by the Kansas Department for Children and Families, protective services, family preservation, reintegration, foster care and permanency placement. The group — comprised of designated state legislators including now Governor Laura Kelly and representatives of several state agencies and organizations that interface with the state’s child welfare system — concluded its work in December 2018.

The task force’s final report final report includes 23 recommendations that, if implemented, should guide the state to sound practices that protect children and strengthen families, including:

  • Workforce. The State of Kansas should invest in the child welfare system workforce by increasing funding for recruitment, retention, and support to effectively attract and retain high-quality staff.
  • Access to Care. The State of Kansas should require access to high-quality and consistent medical and behavioral health care for Medicaid-eligible, high-risk youth through the Medicaid state plan or other appropriate sources of funding.
  • Foster Care Re-entry and Transitional Services. The State of Kansas should provide young adults age 18-21 with the option to seamlessly re-enter the child welfare system, and ensure continuity in medical, behavioral health and support services for youth who have exited the custody of DCF.
  • Service Setting. The State of Kansas should prioritize delivering services for children and youth in natural settings, such as, but not limited to, homes, schools, primary care offices, in the child’s community when possible. The needs of the child and family should be the most important factor when determining where services are delivered.
  • Safety Net, Early Childhood Programs and Early Intervention.  The State of Kansas should fully fund, strengthen and expand safety net and early childhood programs through public services (DCF [Department of Children and Families], mental health, substance abuse and education) and community-based partner programs, and reduce barriers for families needing to access concrete supports. The State of Kansas should ensure availability and adequate access to early childhood behavioral health services statewide.
  • Relative Search. The State of Kansas should ensure that diligent search for relatives for possible placement begins immediately when a child is removed from the home.

These are just a sampling of the task force's recommendations. You can review them all. We will We will be monitoring the state’s action related to these and the other recommendations adopted by the task force and providing updates about them throughout the legislative session. 

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