Rally for Kansas foster care reform planned at the Statehouse

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — There are nearly 8,000 children in the foster care system in Kansas. Some parents have begun to push back against the system, saying their kids have suffered abuse and neglect.

There is currently a class-action lawsuit against the Kansas Department for Children and Families, Kansas Depart of Health and Environment, and Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, saying some kids are mistreated and abused under the state’s care.

Randy Puett hears the stories every day.

“Some of the stories, to be blunt, rape – multiple times, stabbings, children abused, deaths,” he said.

Randy created the Facebook group ‘Kansas Kids Matter’ after his daughter had a traumatic experience while in foster care; you can read his story here. He now acts as a leader for foster care reform in Kansas.

“Someone’s gotta step up. If I stand alone, I stand alone. If I stand with many, I stand with many,” said Randy.

Randy added he is willing to make his voice heard because so many other parents are unable to come forward due to ongoing cases or fear. For the second year, Randy is taking his fight to the Kansas Capitol. On January 10, 2020 a rally will be held on the first floor of the Statehouse.

“I believe it needs to be held here because legislature needs to be changed for the children, laws need to be made. I mean seriously the state has to stand up for these kids,” explained Randy.

Governor Kelly says the state will fix what she calls a broken foster care system. Randy has invited the Governor to the January rally, however in an email, the Governor’s office has said she will not be able to attend.

In a statement, Governor Kelly said the following:

“Fixing our foster-care system has been a priority since taking office. Secretary Howard is working hard to improve the Department for Children and Families, and the hiring of additional case workers was an important first step. We’re also one of the first states to implement Family First, a program to help vulnerable families and help prevent at-risk children from being placed in foster care. While there still is much work to do to restore services undermined over the past several years, we are making progress.”

Governor Laura Kelly

Randy is hopeful that she will change her mind and attend the rally.

“I would ask her politely to come and speak or listen to some of the stories that I’ve been told,” said Randy. “It might just open her eyes.”

The Kansas Department for Children and Families provided the statement below:

“The Department for Children and Families is committed to the hard work of improving the Kansas foster care system. During the last 11 months DCF has taken several steps to restore services that were neglected in the past several years. Those steps include hiring more than forty additional child protection workers and becoming one of the first states in the nation to institute the Family First Prevention Services Act which will prevent children from coming into the foster care system. In addition, DCF has adopted new practice models that will help keep children with family or close kin. We’ve made progress but understand there is still much work to be done and look forward to engaging with community stakeholders during the process.”

Mike Deines, DCF director of communications

The Kansas Kids Matter rally will take place on January 10, 2020 at 1 p.m. on the first floor of the Statehouse.

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