Task force meets to improve foster care in Kansas

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – People are coming together to make sure Kansas kids have a better life.

The Child Welfare Systems Task Force was created to improve the foster care environment in the state, but members weren’t going to meet this year until the Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard stepped in.

“It was important to bring that group back together at least once and share some of the progress we’ve made and also to get some additional input,” said DCF Secretary Laura Howard.

She said in years past the task force has sent many recommendations to the legislature that have impacted children.

“New funding for staff resources, funding for prevention under the new Family First act that will allow us to do some prevention services, some legislation that we needed for that as well,” Howard said.

Governor Laura Kelly was also at the meeting. She used to be on the task force while serving as a state senator.

“This administration works to reduce the amount of children in foster care, we’ve got to have adequate staffing,” she said.

42 additional positions have been added to DCF in the last year-plus.

On Monday, Governor Kelly met with legislators and groups promoting the health of children at the Kansas Health Institute in Topeka to see what’s working and what still needs to get done.

“I’m hopeful that bringing together stakeholders from the different systems as we did with this task force will ensure that we will meet the needs of our youth,” Kelly said.

Issues the task force still wants to address are the best practices, juvenile mental health, and information sharing in the foster care system.

“There was an awful amount of focus about the limitations that take place when people who are part of the child-serving system can’t share information,” Howard said.

Many of the items discussed today will need the support of the legislature.

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