State of Kansas settles federal lawsuit, steps to overhaul foster-care system underway
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) -Major steps are underway to overhaul the Kansas foster care system after the state on Wednesday settled a federal lawsuit concerning the treatment of foster children in state custody.
The class-action lawsuit, filed in 2018 was against the Department for Children and Families (DCF), the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the department for aging and disability services. The suit claimed the state’s foster care system was mismanaged and dangerous for thousands of foster children.
The suit accused the state of moving children from bed to bed every night, even using offices or tables for them to sleep on. The suit says many children were left to wonder where they were going to sleep the next night.
The suit claimed this caused significant issues, including mental and behavioral. The settlement reached by the state and advocacy groups behind the lawsuit includes several steps meant to reform foster care in Kansas. This includes no longer housing children in offices or hotels, ending night-to-night or short-term placement, ending delays in mental-health treatment, and ensuring crisis intervention services statewide.
The settlement also includes accountability reporting and the creation of an independent advisory group.
“The settlement agreement affirms our commitment to Kansas children by continuing efforts to build an effective child welfare system,” DCF Secretary Laura Howard said. “The work we agreed to complete to resolve this lawsuit began a year and a half ago when I stepped into my role as Secretary and will continue to be our primary focus.”
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