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Archive for Friday, January 21, 2005

SRS announces changes to foster care services

DCCCA loses part of its contract, retains metro area

January 21, 2005

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Welfare officials on Thursday announced a major overhaul of the state's approach to caring for its abused, neglected and troubled children.

Effective July 1, Kansas Children's Service League will no longer be in charge of foster care services in 24 counties in northeast Kansas. The regional contract was awarded to KVC Behavioral Health Care. The region includes Topeka, Manhattan, Junction City and Salina.

Lawrence-based DCCCA will no longer be the region's contractor for family preservation services. That bid went to The Farm Inc.

"We're sorry to lose the contract," said DCCCA executive director Bruce Beale. "We have a lot of good staff out there."

Losing the contract, Beale said, will affect between 40 and 50 DCCCA employees. Some will have to move to keep their jobs, he said.

DCCCA will continue to provide family preservation services in Douglas County and in 33 counties in the eastern half of the state.

Contract terms, too, have changed. After a child has been in foster care for six months, a contractor's payment will be reduced to 66 percent. After a year: 29 percent.

The reductions are meant to be an incentive for moving children through the system quickly without jeopardizing their safety.

Other changes in the foster care contracts:

  • More services for parents whose children have been removed from their homes.
  • More interaction between foster and biological parents.

Foster care contractors will be responsible for finding adoptive homes for children who cannot safely return home. Currently, children who cannot return home are referred to Kansas Children's Service League, which has the state's adoption contract.

Under the new contracts, KCSL will be responsible for recruiting, training and making adoptive parents available to the foster care contractors.

"We expect these changes to shorten the lengths of stay in the system and be better for kids," said Sandra Hazlett, director of children and family policy at the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Currently, SRS pays its five foster care contracts (KCSL, KVC, United Methodist Youthville, The Farm, St. Francis Academy) almost $93 million a year. The new contracts are expected to cost the same.

For family preservation services, DCCCA is paid $8.1 million, and St. Francis Academy is paid $2.1 million.

Based in Salina, St. Francis Academy has, and will retain, the foster care and family preservation contracts for the western half of the state.

The changes do not bode well for KCSL, which loses $14.6 million in foster care payments and $30 million in adoption payments.

"It'll be a big decrease in our budget, and it will significantly impact our staff size," said KCSL spokeswoman Tina Long, noting that 242 of the agency's 382 full-time employees are paid through the contract.

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