foster care

Aubri Thompson has already had her share of challenges by age 21: She left the foster care system without a designated caregiver, lived without a steady home for more than a year and became a single parent before finishing college.

Thompson lived in the Kansas foster care system from age 14, when she was reported as a runaway, until she “aged out” at 18. During that time, she moved 21 times, staying in foster homes, group homes and mental health treatment facilities.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday signed a bill creating a task force to examine the Kansas foster care system.

The number of children in the Kansas foster care system has set records in recent years, passing 7,100 in April. The death of an abused boy in Kansas City, Kansas, also raised concerns about whether the system was protecting children. 

MEG WINGERTER / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Editor’s note: Kansas privatized its foster care system in 1997 after a lawsuit revealed widespread problems. Twenty years later, the number of Kansas children in foster care has shot up — topping 7,100 in April — and lawmakers approved the creation of a task force to examine the system. The Kansas News Service investigated problems in the foster care system and possible solutions. This is the fifth story in a series.

By Meg Wingerter

Kansas House and Senate negotiators have come up with an amended foster care task force bill but are working against the legislative clock to get it passed.

A few years ago, Olathe attorney Shanelle Dupree noticed a pattern in the foster care cases she handled: Most parents had little understanding of the system or what to do if they wanted their children back.

So she started a class to try to change that. Once a month, parents who have a child in foster care can meet in a Johnson County family law courtroom to learn more about the basics of the child welfare system. Most parents are referred by the courts as part of the plan to prove they can take care of their children, Dupree said.

Nick Youngson http://nyphotographic.com/

As the Texas Panhandle faces a rising number of foster children without homes, the Texas Legislature Monday passed a law that would turn away some prospective parents for religious reasons.

As ABC 7 Amarillo reports, there is a growing need for foster homes in the Texas Panhandle.

Kansas lawmakers have struggled since 2015 on whether to investigate alleged discrimination against same-sex couples in the state’s foster care and adoption system.

Now some think they’ve hit on an answer: Ask people working in the foster care system if they think the issue needs a deeper look.

Rep. Jarrod Ousley, a Merriam Democrat, has asked the Legislative Post Audit Division to conduct a survey about potential bias against same-sex couples in child placement decisions.

Editor’s note: Kansas privatized its foster care system in 1997 after a lawsuit revealed widespread problems. Twenty years later, the number of Kansas children in foster care has shot up — by a third in just the last five years — and lawmakers are debating whether the system once again needs serious changes. The Kansas News Service investigated problems in the system and possible solutions. This is the first story in a series.

The Kansas House gave preliminary approval Friday to a bill creating a task force that will recommend improvements to the foster care system.

The House Children and Seniors Committee passed the bill in March after collecting testimony from foster parents, law enforcement officials and child welfare advocates. Many of those who testified expressed concerns about social worker caseloads and lack of coordination in the system. 

Elizabeth Brockway / Daily Beast

A new Texas bill could allow adoption agencies to reject potential new parents based on their religion or sexual orientation, CNN reports.

Lawmakers insist their bill does not amount to discrimination, however, because the measure requires that the rejected applicants be given choices from other agencies than the one that rejected them.

A bill to increase oversight of the Kansas foster care system hit a snag after state officials said its wording could jeopardize millions in federal funding.

The bill would create an interim oversight committee that would study problems in the state’s foster care system and submit a corrective action plan to the Kansas Legislature. The House Committee on Children and Seniors approved the bill in March, but it still must pass the full House and Senate.

Kansas has plenty of reports on problems in its foster care system but needs a plan to fix them, according to members of a House committee.

The House Children and Seniors Committee voted Tuesday to create a foster care task force that will present a plan for improvements to the foster care system by January.

Rep. Jarrod Ousley, a Merriam Democrat, said the state needs to do more than study the foster care system.

“This task force is not for oversight. It’s for corrective action,” he said.

jeffsmallwood / Flickr Creative Commons

While Texas has garnered national news for its poor treatment of foster kids, Oklahoma has quietly been amassing a far more troubling record.

As The Tulsa World reports, a report has found that Oklahoma had more cases of foster-care abuse and neglect in 2015 than any other state.

Astrid Westvang / Creative Commons

In Texas, foster care providers have clashed with court judges over a senator’s proposal to privatize foster care.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, the debate centers around whether private contractors in Texas should be allowed to completely take over supervision of abused and neglected children.

Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman

A federal judge has now ordered Texas officials to create several plans to fix the systemic problems that have plagued the state’s foster care system for years. Some of the proposed fixes will be due in as little as three months from now.

Chan Lone / Texas Tribune

Texas’s foster care system has been in crisis for years now. The Lone Star State has been plagued by reports of abuse and neglect in the system. State workers are severely overworked, and there were even reports of foster kids regularly sleeping in the offices of state foster care workers.

Earlier this year a federal judge ordered Texas overhaul the system, and the directive was backed up by an independent review paid for on Texas’s dime.

Allison V. Smith / Texas Tribune

Texas foster youth are struggling to obtain college degrees, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram­.

The dearth of foster kids heading to college exists despite government programs engineered to help them.

Foster youths are eligible for waived college tuition and education training vouchers as long as they enroll before their 25th birthday. However, eligible students simply aren’t taking advantage of the programs.

KOTV

As Texas grapples with pervasive troubles in its foster care system, Oklahoma looks to be trying to match its neighbor to the south. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services warned this week of catastrophic cuts.

Texas Tribune

After months of scrutiny and controversy, the foster care system in Texas appears to be worsening instead of improving, according to The Texas Tribune. Abused children are being left in psychiatric facilities far past the eight to 10 days covered by Medicaid. In fact, that’s an understatement: As of August, children were being held for an average of 768 days.

Chan Lone / Texas Tribune

Late last year a federal judge ordered the State of Texas to reform its foster care laws. U.S. District Judge Janis Jack of Corpus Christi claimed the Texas foster care system violated children's civil rights by subjecting them to rampant neglect and abuse. Judge Jack appointed special “masters” to oversee the reforms, reports The Texas Tribune. The masters are expected to study the system and recommend changes.

Texas Tribune

Last month a federal judge ordered Texas to clean up its foster care system. U.S. District Judge Janis Jack’s findings were scathing.

Plaintiffs in a settled lawsuit say not enough progress is being made to improved the foster care system in Oklahoma. The Pinnacle Plan is a result of the suit claiming the Oklahoma Department of Human Services had policies leading to the harm of abused and neglected children in state custody. The plan contains a list of specific improvements to be met by 2017, complete with progress goals along the way. Plaintiffs have written a letter to program monitors asking them to push for faster change. A spokeswoman for the department says a written response will be given by today.

kansas.com

There’s bill being heard by the Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee today that creates a higher tier of foster care reports the Wichita Eagle

This level pays at a substantially higher rate and families in the program would be eligible for state education aid to either home school or send their foster kids to private school.

The bill is introduced by Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona.  He says he wants to provide stability for children.

To be eligible for this program, a husband and wife have to be married for at least seven years, one cannot work outside the home.  They must keep their home free of liquor and tobacco, and refrain from extramarital sex.   

Kansas has more children in foster care than ever

Jun 11, 2014
Cathy Mores/Special to KHI News Service / khi.org

Kansas has the more kids in foster care than ever reported the Kansas Health Institute.  In April, there were 6,156 children in the system.  That’s an increase of 356 over April of 2013, and 872 more than April of 2012.  The reasons for the all-time high vary.