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Noonletter, Nov. 19, 2018

Crysta Henthorne
Kansas News Service

Moved how many times?

One boy. In the care of the state since 2012. Shifted from one foster placement to the next. One hundred thirty times.

A lawsuit filed Friday argues cases like that — 130 was an extreme case, but more than 100 moves in Kansas foster care is not wildly unusual — show the system is operating so poorly it violates the constitutional rights of children.

In particular, it contends so many moves heap more trauma onto children already in crisis and that too many kids don’t get the mental health screening they should.

A group of child advocacy groups sued Gov. Jeff Colyer and the heads of social service agencies demanding repairs to the system.

Madeline Fox reports that the lawsuit says problems in foster care effectively render children homeless. And that the trauma of multiple moves makes the kids ever-less-settled and harder to manage, creating a feedback loop where each subsequent foster home is less capable to handle their problems.

It’s called “churning.” Read the full story.

Here today, gone tomorrow

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach made much of his political career — something that’s on hold in the wake of his failed run for governor — arguing about supposed widespread voter fraud.

He never proved that illegal ballots were cast routinely, but he raised fears about the possibility of immigrants voting illegally. And he ultimately convinced the Legislature to give the secretary of state’s office the power to prosecute voter fraud cases — authority not given to such offices in any other state.

His successor, fellow Republican Scott Schwab, was among the lawmakers who voted for the transfer of that power. But now, reports Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Schwab is OK with surrendering the prosecution powers. And Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he’ll ask legislators to shift that authority back to the attorney general and local prosecutors.

Still a problem

Racism continues to impose an economic burden on minority groups in the state, says the Kansas Center for Economic Growth.

The center says prejudice — both historical and current — keeps minorities out of neighborhoods with the best-funded schools and prevents homeownership that helps build family wealth.

Llopis-Jepsen reports that the findings also conclude black children are four times as likely to live in poverty than their white peers. Hispanic children are twice as likely.  Members of minority groups in the state earn lower wages and are less likely to have a job that includes health insurance than white people.

Keep your empties

Wichita police have seen a dramatic increase in firearm thefts in recent years. They’re asking gun owners to keep spent ammo casings so, if a firearm is stolen, police can better track whether the weapon ends up in a crime.

The Wichita Eagle reports that gun thefts in the city roughly quadrupled between 2012 and 2017. The shift appears at least partly related to the state’s loosened rules on carrying a concealed weapon. More people are carrying guns routinely. Then they end up at a business that bans the guns, stash the firearm in a car, burglars break into the vehicle, and the gun is stolen.

The Wichita cops suggest turning over the empty casings to police if the weapon is stolen.

Scott Canon is digital editor of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @ScottCanon.

 Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

As the editor of a statewide news outlet, I aspire to work with our reporters to give Kansans a clear-eyed view of the place they call home. That means delivering hard-hitting stories that expose those things that keep Kansas from being the most vibrant, healthy place it can be. You can reach me at scott@kcur.org or 816-235-8023.
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