TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The state reported Thursday that fewer and fewer children are missing from the state’s foster care system.
On May 9, there were 97 missing children is the state’s foster care system.
Since then the number has been steadily dropping to 59.
“We hope that we can get it down further, we want to create stability for all youth but we know we need to be prepared,” said Tanya Keys, Deputy Secretary for the Department for Children and Families.
Keys said in May the department added more positions to help find missing kids.
“Youth specialists, special response team across the state that’s helping statewide to be able to prevent youth on run, help with the recovery efforts of that, and then also maybe helping us learn maybe best practices or some pieces out there that can strengthen engagement,” said Keys.
DCF works with law enforcement, talks to family and friends, and searches social media. But the reason behind a child leaving their home can vary.
“Kids that are traumatized, it affects their brains, so they can go through a lot of issues,” said Kelly Durkin, LifeHouse Child Advocacy Center executive director.
She said children can be exposed to a lot if they’re on their own.
“They can encounter a lot of issues, of course, one of our biggest fears is that they’ll be human trafficked, because they’re out and they’re extremely vulnerable,” Durkin said.
That’s what DCF wants to prevent.
“We want to get them somewhere stable, so asking those questions about where can they be, where do they want to be and how can we get them in a placement where they’re safe and they don’t need to run again,” Keys.
Most children are found within six months of being reported missing. The majority of runaway youth are 16 to 17-year-olds.