OPINION

Barb's blog

Rep. Barb Wasinger, 111th Kansas House District
Barb Wasinger

Help and change coming for foster kids

I am deeply concerned about our foster care system in Kansas. I’ve met with foster parents in my district and they recounted the poor communication between agencies, the lack of respite care for foster parents and foster kids being returned to parents despite numerous positive drug tests. News reports and testimony to legislative committees have laid out an even bleaker picture of the foster care system in Kansas. There are stories on multiple placements (one child having 130 placements), children sleeping in offices overnight, children running away from placements with the state having no idea where a child was located, and foster care children aging into the corrections system. A 2019 survey found that 1 in 3 Kansas inmates had been in foster care. This breaks my heart – but I have some good news.

The House voted on House Bill 2115 on Thursday of this past week which came as a result of recommendations from the Legislature’s Special Committee on Foster Care Oversight. The bill establishes the Joint Committee on Child Welfare System Oversight. It makes sure eyes remain on the administration’s management of the system and on long-term improvements for children in foster care. They will be doing things like reviewing child welfare data and study how the programs and services impact the children. They will dive into how DCF, KDHE & KDADS as they impact children. The House passed the bill 118-4 and it now goes to the Senate for consideration.

There is so much to be done to fix the foster care system, but this is the start to calling for accountability. I have met with foster parents here in Hays and the list of issues is long and frankly, very distressing. We have failed our most precious resource – our children. HB 2115 is just the beginning.

Rep. Barb Wasinger represents the 111th Kansas House District.