(WICHITA, Kan.)—Youthville will not be in charge of foster care or adoption services in the Wichita area starting in July, a role it's had since 1996. The contract Youthville lost was worth about $20 million dollars a year.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families awarded the new four year contract to St. Francis Community Services. That group will provide services in Wichita and 9 surrounding counties. It was also awarded the contract for Western Kansas, which includes 69 counties.
Youthville will still be busy, offering assistance with foster care. It will also continue to operate its two residential campuses in Dodge City and Newton and provide outpatient mental health services in Wichita and throughout the state.
Duncan knows Youthville will reduce in size due to this contract change, but she's not sure how many employees will be let go. Duncan also thinks many may be rehired by St. Francis.
St. Francis isn't a new provider. It's offered family preservation services in western Kansas and will now take on the additional roles of foster care, adoption and reintegration services. Kansas DCF Spokesperson Angela De Rocha said strengthening family preservations services was a key factor in this new contract.
"It is so traumatic for a child to be removed from their home," said St. Francis Community Services Development Officer Nancy Duling. "So whatever you can do to preserve the family, to keep them together, to give them the services to become a united family, that's what we want to do."
The change will take place July 1. Youthville will continue providing services to families until that date, but will help St. Francis with the transition in the coming months.
KVC Behavioral Services out of Olathe won the child welfare contracts for both the east and Kansas City regions. Kansas has about 5,100 children in the foster care system each month.