KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Children and Families is monitoring a foster care contractor that has kept children in offices overnight due to a shortage of beds.
The department announced the added oversight of KVC Health Systems on Wednesday after hearing concerns, though the state agency said it couldn’t specifically disclose what the concerns were, the Kansas City Star reported.
Officials are aware of the difficulty the state’s two contractors have in children’s placement, “and we continue to work with them to minimize the time youth spend in offices,” according to an email from the department.
“Recently, Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel directed DCF staff to conduct walk-throughs of KVC offices in order to ensure children in the custody of the secretary are safe and meeting the needs of the children,” the agency said. “DCF continues to partner with its providers to address the need for safe placements for children.”
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The contractor is working to place children in foster homes and other placements, said Jenny Kutz, spokeswoman for KVC. She said no children have been kept in KVC offices since May 18, but youth that do need to stay overnight will be in a “safe, caring environment.”
Nearly 90 children have spent at least one night sleeping in KVC offices between Dec. 1 and April 11, according to information provided by the department.
Child welfare advocates and lawmakers have been scrutinizing the department for the past year after discovering the lack of beds and missing foster care children. Advocates have demanded change after the newspaper revealed the department’s lack of transparency on child welfare issues.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com