Archive for Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lawmaker wants Amber Alert-type system for missing foster children

October 12, 2017


— A Democratic state lawmaker is calling on the Department for Children and Families to come up with new procedures for responding when children in the state's privatized foster care system go missing.

Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said Thursday that she remains shocked at reports that more than 70 Kansas foster children are listed as missing, and she said there needs to be a system similar to an Amber Alert that would prompt an immediate search.

"You can’t use the Amber Alert because that’s limited to kids who’ve been abducted, basically, and you think are in immediate danger," Kelly said in a telephone interview Thursday. "There ought to be some other category since these kids are wards of the state. There ought to be some other procedure that we follow when a kid goes missing from a foster home. That’s what I’m going to be drilling down on."

News that more than 70 foster children are currently missing was first reported during a meeting Tuesday of a special Child Welfare Task Force on Tuesday in response to questions about the disappearance in August of three sisters from a Tonganoxie foster home.

DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore reportedly seemed unaware of those missing girls, whose disappearance had been reported that day by the Kansas City Star.

She also said the estimated 74 foster children currently missing represent about 1 percent of all the children in foster care, which is about the national average.

"“There are more than 7,000 children in the foster care system,” Gilmore said in a news release issued Wednesday. “These children who run away are not under lock and key; they are generally in family foster homes, older youth, who attend school and activities, and they often miss their biological families. We work closely with our foster care contractors, law enforcement, the school system and affected families to locate missing children as quickly as possible.”

"I understand. I used to work with emotionally disturbed adolescents," Kelly said in response. "And when you have them you will always have runners. That’s just part of it. But you have a protocol for dealing with that, and that’s what I’m looking to see, what their protocol is. Apparently the protocol doesn’t include notifying the secretary because the secretary knew nothing about these three girls missing."

Wednesday's news release from DCF highlighted the existing protocols for children who go missing from a DCF placement. Those protocols call for filing a missing person report with the appropriate law enforcement agency, contacting the child's biological parent, if parental rights have not been severed, and notifying the court of the child's missing status.

In addition, Kelly said, officials from the private agencies that operate the foster care system told the task force Tuesday that they file monthly reports with DCF on missing foster children.

"But that’s every 30 days, they give an update," Kelly said. "There’s not an immediate response to missing kids, like the amber alert. They don’t have policies and procedures, protocols that make that a very high priority. That’s what I’m concerned about, that the secretary doesn’t even know about it and that they don’t have anything in place to respond to that as an emergency – to shift resources to find that kid."

Kelly said she may introduce legislation to change the way DCF deals with missing foster children, but that she hopes it doesn't come to that.

"I would hope the agency and the contractors would voluntarily come to the table, with law enforcement, and whatever other entity ought to be involved, and come up with a protocol that gets activated instantly once we know a kid is missing from a foster home," she said.


Pete Kennamore 8 months, 1 week ago

Democrats never miss an opportunity to expand programs at taxpayer expense

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

So, in other words, you could care less about these kids. Okay, I guess that's your right.

Pete Kennamore 8 months, 1 week ago

Another program needed, more bureaucrats, more taxes and don't you dare question it because "Its for the Children"

Lynn Grant 8 months, 1 week ago

Wow Pete, it's all about the money, isn't it! You would have no problem finding a job with the current administration in Kansas or DC.

Pete Kennamore 8 months, 1 week ago

Suggest you familiarize yourself with the concept of unlimited wants versus limited means.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

So, we kick these kids to the curb? Let them get recruited by pimps? Make sure they get born, but then dump them. Real "pro-life" of you, Pete. Are you going to sell your own children, if you end up with limited means?

Pete Kennamore 8 months, 1 week ago

Okay Dorothy you convinced me. Let's set up this program. One condition, YOU personally will be assessed a $20,000/year tax to help fund it. Still for it?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

What is your price for a human life, Pete? If your kid gets cancer, what is your limit? If the price of treatment goes over that limit, do you just let the kid die? I really hope you don't and never do have children.

Pete Kennamore 8 months ago

Are you suggesting the value of a human life is infinite? That human kind should expend the entire human economy to save the life of one person? You and I both know that isn't workable. That is a significant driver of the spiraling cost of health care in the US. We will spend a million dollars to try and extend the life of the 87 year old with terminal cancer by 2 months. However you do bring up the key to the issue. How much is the life worth and most importantly, who decides? As for a reference to my children, that is rather mean spirited.

Carol Bowen 8 months, 1 week ago

Senator Kelly suggested a procedure, not a position or a department.

Monty Amick 8 months, 1 week ago

Seems like the Amber Alert system could be used for foster kids also. No need to fire up a whole new system. Yes, Amber alert is for kids believed to be abducted or in imminent danger. So just have a downgraded alert. Like a rating system or something based on the fosters previous actions (runaways etc).

Sounds nice and simple to me. Kids get taken care of with not as big an increase in funding.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 months, 1 week ago

I agree. The same system should be used. Why are children in foster homes less valued as children in their own homes? If a child is under the age of 18, unless they have emancipation papers, they should not be allowed to run away. They should be found and brought home or, if they are foster kids, maybe find another solution. They are too vulnerable for exploitation by pimps and drug dealers.

Carol Bowen 8 months, 1 week ago

Do the contractors assign case workers? Case workers would/should/could periodically visit children periodically.

Kendall Simmons 8 months, 1 week ago

I wonder just how profitable it is for those private agencies that operate the foster care system in Kansas to not mention those missing kids.

Carol Bowen 8 months ago

Kendall Simmons

“I wonder just how profitable it is for those private agencies that operate the foster care system in Kansas to not mention those missing kids.”

Sorry, Kendall. Did not intend to suggest removal of your post. It was a slip of my finger.

Dan Koziolek 8 months ago

While managing a county agency's child welfare program for 15 years, we were able to eliminate youth running away from foster and residential care simply by keeping them connected to their own families.

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