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Kansas teens in foster care could soon pick their own legal families

A sign that says "Kansas Department for Children and Families. Strong Families Make a Strong Kansas."
Blaise Mesa
Kansas News Service
Access to mental health services is an issue for foster kids. One state legislature thinks they found the fix.

Kansas could be the first state to pilot the SOUL Family Legal Permanency Option, which would give foster youth 16 and up a say in who supports them as they transition into adulthood. A bill that would implement the program has a hearing in a Senate committee tomorrow.

Kansas teens in foster care could soon have a say in their legal relationships if a bill currently under consideration in the Kansas legislature is passed.

The SOUL Family program aims to address challenges of foster teens and create networks of support as they transition into adulthood. The program would let teens pick the adults that help support and make decisions for them— without forcing them to give up their legal relationships with their parents.

"It's good for youth, it's good for families, and it's just good all around," said Yusef Presley, who grew up in the foster system and now advocates for the SOUL Family program in Kansas. "I understand that it really takes a village to get where you want to go in life."

The SOUL Family bill advanced out of the House in February; a hearing is set in the Senate Committee on Public Health and Welfare tomorrow.

  • Rachel Marsh, CEO, Children's Alliance of Kansas
  • Yusef Presley, former foster youth and advocate for the SOUL Family program
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