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Advocates say new data show Kansas is still failing its kids in foster care

The Kansas Department for Children and Families sign
Blaise Mesa
Kansas News Service
The number of foster kids sleeping in provider offices last year increased by 54% compared to 2021.

An independent review of the state’s child welfare system published Monday shows the number of foster kids sleeping in offices last year increased by 54% compared to 2021.

Despite a 2020 lawsuit settlement promising improvements, Kansas’ child welfare system continues to fail many of its foster kids, according to an independent review by the Center for the Study of Social Policy released Monday.

Teresa Woody, Litigation Director at the Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, is one of the attorneys who sued Kansas in 2018 over systemic failures in the state's handling of foster care. She told KCUR the state's child welfare programs have been troubled for a long time.

“Foster care issues in Kansas go back decades, it's not just since the settlement of the lawsuit,” Woody says. “These goals that were set in the settlement were the minimum that the state needs to do.”

But Kansas did make some progress last year. In 2022, more kids left foster care than entered. And according to Laura Howard, Secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, 91% of kids in the system are in a stable placement compared to 86% the year before.

“I won't be satisfied until we have zero kids in offices and until every child who has to come into foster care for whatever reason is in a stable placement,” Howard said.

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