TONGANOXIE, Kan. (KNST)— One Kansas foster mom is pleading for help amid an ongoing battle with the Kansas Department of Children and Families and foster care contractor Cornerstones of Care.
Jackie Schooler, a foster mom, living in Tonganoxie, is speaking out after countless attempts to advocate on behalf of her foster children.
“Cornerstones of Care, they count on foster parents to back down,” Schooler said. “They don’t want foster parents that speak up.”
Schooler is a single mom, who is caring for three foster siblings that are part of a sibling set of eight.
In an interview with Kansas Capitol Bureau, Schooler said her foster kids are at risk of being moved to an adoptive family in Manhattan, miles away from the only home they’ve known, in a matter of weeks. She said she’s reached out to the Governor’s Office, the Kansas Department of Children and Families, and Cornerstones of Care, but has not received any help.
“Their therapists , their teachers, their doctors have all said this is the worst possible scenario,” she said.
Schooler’s foster children will be moved to the adoptive family the day before Thanksgiving. They have been with her for more than three years, after being removed from their biological home.
In a string of unanswered emails, Schooler expressed to the foster care contractor that her foster kids have experienced anxiety because of the move, and requested more information.
A transition plan sent by the organization laid out about a month’s worth of steps, starting in mid-October, in just seven sentences.
“After 40 months of living with me, this is the best they could do,” Schooler said.
Meanwhile, Schooler said the organization has shot down requests to keep the children closer to their home in Lawrence.
Schooler said the organization has refused to allow her to adopt the youngest of the siblings, who she’s had since they were one-year old.
She said the organization has also turned down an adoption request from a nearby family, who already has a relationship with the children.
“The primary goal of kids that can’t be reintegrated are to go live with non-related kin… ‘NR kin’… and that’s who this family in town is,” Schooler explained. “It’s their daycare provider. And so, they spend every single day with her. And DCF and Cornerstones of Care refuse to allow for that. There’s no reason to traumatize my kids again by making them move to Manhattan to a family of strangers.”
Cornerstones of Care has also faced backlash from upset lawmakers and foster families that are in a similar spot as Schooler.
A closed meeting was held in October with the Kansas Department of Children and Families to discuss other cases that involve this sibling set.
However, Schooler said the department and Cornerstones of Care have yet to take action to make a redetermination in their case.
“My foster son has asked me to keep fighting for him, so, I’m here because of him, and because my kids don’t want to go to this family, and they don’t want me to give up trying,” Schooler said.
In a statement, Mike Deines, a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Children and Families, said that “confidentiality requirements prevent DCF from commenting about a current open case.”
Cornerstones of Care spokesman John Ratliff, also declined to comment in a phone call with Kansas Capitol Bureau on Friday.