Audit cites Kansas foster care system compliance failures

? Auditors say the Kansas foster care system isn’t meeting many federal requirements, including ones aimed at providing stability for children.

The Wichita Eagle reports that the report was released Wednesday. It comes after a July audit found the Kansas Department for Children and Families failed to ensure the safety of youth in foster care.

Among the federal requirements assessed, the foster care system complies with only about a third of them. One failure involved the percentage of children who are adopted within one to two years after entering into foster care.

Phyllis Gilmore, Secretary of Kansas Department for Children and Families told legislators Wednesday the department is working to resolve the issues highlighted in the first two audits released from the three-part investigation.

Gilmore said the department plans to boost social worker recruitment and training. Efforts are also underway to change regulations to require background checks for everyone over the age of 10 in a foster child’s home. The state previous only required background checks for foster parents. Gilmore also said the agency plans to receive real-time updates on arrests or charges against people living in a foster child’s home.

She also tried to address concerns from legislators by emphasizing lower rates of abuse and maltreatment.

“Children are not suffering maltreatment while they’re in custody,” Gilmore said while trying to address concerns from legislators. “There’s lots of trauma when they’re removed from the home, (but) while they’re in custody in Kansas, children are safe by all measurements.”

Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, disagreed with Gilmore about the maltreatment of children and said, “You need to be very careful making those blanket statements that are not true.”

The final portion of the three-part investigation will be released next year. The Kansas Department for Children and Families will submit an improvement plan to the federal government about how it will address areas where it was not in compliance.