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Audit Finds Problems in the Kansas Foster Care System

Secretary Gilmore speaking to one of her staff members before the hearing. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

 
An audit says the Kansas Department for Children and Families hasn’t done enough to ensure the safety of children in foster care. That led two Democratic lawmakers to call for the head of the agency to resign.

The audit was prompted by instances of abuse or children dying in Kansas foster care in recent years.

The audit says the agency hasn’t consistently conducted background checks for foster parents and doesn’t keep up with monthly visits to check on foster homes.

The report also says the agency virtually always approves exceptions to regulations limiting the number of kids in a home or how much space is required per child. The report says that has left some foster children without enough sleeping space in bedrooms. In one instance, five foster children shared one bedroom, leaving just 25 square feet per child.

“I thought the discovery of the audit was appalling, as a parent. The negligence that’s occurring within the department, the inaction,” says Democratic Representative Jarrod Ousley, one of the lawmakers calling for the leader of DCF to step down.

“I think new leadership would be a great place to start in fixing the problem with our foster care,” says Ousley.

DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore says she doesn’t intend to resign. She says the agency had already identified many of the problems mentioned in the audit and has been working on improvements.

"My primary motivation from day one has been to improve this agency and the care of children in Kansas," Gilmore told a legislative committee.

She says Kansas is highly rated for protecting foster children under federal measures.

“Kansas is a leader in keeping children safe, but we are not perfect. We cannot claim that we have arrived. We have much to do and we are doing it,” says Gilmore.

Governor Sam Brownback says he'll be keeping Gilmore in the job.

"Secretary Gilmore will continue to have my full support as she works to address the legitimate record keeping and contractor accountability concerns cited in the post audit report, and most importantly, to improve the overall foster care system for Kansas children," says Brownback.

For more reporting on this story, visit the KHI News Service.

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(NEWSCAST VERSION)

An audit says the Kansas Department for Children and Families hasn’t done enough to ensure the safety of kids in foster care. The report led to calls for the head of the agency to step down. Stephen Koranda reports.


The audit says the agency hasn’t consistently conducted background checks for Kansas foster parents and doesn’t keep up with monthly visits to check on foster homes. Democratic Representative Jarrod Ousley says the leader of DCF should resign.

“I thought the discovery of the audit was appalling, as a parent. The negligence that’s occurring within the department, the inaction,” says Ousley.
 
DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore says she has no intention of stepping down. She says the agency had already identified many of these problems and has been working on improvements. She says the state does well on federal measures of foster care safety.
 
“Kansas is a leader in keeping children safe, but we are not perfect, we cannot claim that we have arrived. We have much to do and we are doing it,” says Gilmore.
 
The audit was prompted by instances of abuse or children dying in foster care.

 

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