Special Efforts Being Made in Kansas to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities
February 12, 2018- Kansas governor backs bill to open records on child deaths, the bill would require the department to release a child's age, gender and date of death upon receiving an open records request. It also would have to release a summary of its reports of child abuse or neglect and its findings about those reports. [ Recommendation 5.3d]
Kansas lawmakers are currently considering House Bill 2425, which would add any adults who reside in the same home as a child to the list of mandated reporters with regard to the suspected physical, mental, or emotional abuse or neglect or sexual abuse of a child. For purposes of this provision, “reside” means to stay, sleep or maintain with regularity or temporarily one’s person and property in the home for three or more consecutive days or parts of days, or for ten or more nonconsecutive days in a period of 30 consecutive days. [Recommendation 7.2e]
After two child fatalities in the state, a critical three-part Legislative Post Audit Report released in 2016-17 found that DCF did not check the background of people in foster homes as often as needed, did not ensure monthly in-person meetings take place, and granted nearly all requests for exceptions to rules governing foster homes. In 2017, DCF unveiled a new simulation training lab for child and adult protection workers; the lab is designed to support the learning and training experiences of child welfare professionals, as well as adult protective services and licensure staff, on issues such as worker safety, interview techniques, communication techniques and investigations. [Recommendation 5.3]
In 2017, Kansas enacted House Substitute for SB 126, authorizing the creation of a Child Welfare System Task Force to study the child welfare system in Kansas by convening working groups addressing DCF’s general administration of child welfare, protective services, family preservation, reintegration, foster care, and permanency placement. [Recommendation 5.3]
Local effort in Wichita: In response to an increase in child maltreatment fatalities, the Wichita Children's Home and Prevent Child Abuse Kansas pulled together a citywide summit and launched the Wichita Coalition for Child Abuse Prevention. The coalition, with the support of facilitators from Wichita State University, has engaged more than 60 partners to reinforce existing interventions and develop new preventive services. [Recommendations 7.1, 7.4]
31, 2017-Legislation establishing Kansas' new child welfare task force missed a
critical piece of the puzzle. We urge task force members to widen their focus to include child abuse and neglect prevention.