TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced the creation of a Division of Child Advocate Monday at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center in Topeka.

Kansas became the 14th state to create an independent advocate to oversee child welfare services. Executive Order 21-28 provides for the creation of an advocate that will oversee organizations that provide foster care for children in Kansas.

“The child welfare system and state government is incredibly complex and very difficult to navigate if you don’t know your way around,” Gov. Kelly said. “We are going to provide them an office that will show them the way around.”

The Executive Order establishes independent accountability to protect children in the welfare system.

“The establishment of Child Advocate is a commonsense win for Kansas kids and families,” Gov. Kelly said.

The order will permit the governor to appoint the individual, but the position will not serve at the pleasure of the governor and will serve a term. Neither the governor nor the legislature can fire the advocate, keeping the position from becoming political.

Gov. Kelly called the creation of the advocate a “true victory for the kids and Kansas families.”

The Division of Child Advocate will assist Kansans with navigating the more “complicated” paths parents and seniors have to take. Kelly said her office took a deep dive into the foster care system in Kansas and what they found was “shameful.” The governor said children would get stuck in the system due to a lack of resources.

“The Child Advocate will strengthen existing oversight in the child welfare system and provide more accountability for Kansans that receive child welfare-related services,” DCF Secretary Laura Howard said.