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Archive for Friday, October 16, 1998

SRS CLOSES ITS HOTLINE ON FOSTER CARE SYSTEM

October 16, 1998

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Thursday was the last day of operations for a temporary telephone hotline created by welfare officials to allow anonymous reporting of problems within the state's foster-care system.

But officials for now are keeping a lid on the number and type of calls received during the two-week period.

Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary Rochelle Chronister launched the toll-free hotline on Sept. 28 in response to criticism that social workers and others at the front lines of foster care weren't voicing their concerns about the controversial system for fear of retaliation from employers or supervisors.

Chronister said the fear was unfounded, but told a legislative panel the two-week hotline would be an opportunity for foster-care critics to ``put up or shut up.''

The hotline was manned by three workers at Kansas University's Beach Center, a research and training center for families with disabled children. Calls were screened to include only those from social workers or other child welfare professionals with direct knowledge of a problem affecting a child in the system.

``The next step will be a meeting (Wednesday) of the special adhoc committee to review the reports and to decide what actions and recommendations to make, if any,'' said Beach Center Director Rod Turnbull, who oversaw the hotline for SRS.

Turnbull said committee members have agreed to release no details about hotline results to the public until the full committee has had opportunity to review the called in reports.

Turnbull is one of four people appointed by Chronister to the committee which meets next week to analyze the reports received. Other members of the committee are SRS Commissioner of Children and Families Teresa Markowitz, Shawnee County District Court Judge James Buchele, and Toni Schuckman, director of youth services for Salvation Army in Wichita.

-- Mike Shields' phone message number is 832-7144. His e-mail address is mshields@ljworld.com.

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