Brownback Signs Bill Creating Task Force To Study Kansas Foster Care System

Brownback Signs Bill Creating Task Force To Study Kansas Foster Care System

Which state foster care systems are being investigated?


Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday signed a bill creating a task force to examine the Kansas foster care system.

The number of children in the Kansas foster care system has set records in recent years, passing 7,100 in April. The death of an abused boy in Kansas City, Kansas, also raised concerns about whether the system was protecting children.

Brownback didn’t comment on his decision to sign the bill.

The legislation establishes a 20-member task force, which will break into smaller working groups to study elements of the child welfare system. The working groups also can bring in non-members with expertise about the topics they are investigating.

Which state foster care systems are being investigated?

The task force will have to start quickly, as the bill requires the task force leaders to start appointing members to working groups by Aug. 15.

The working groups will study topics including:

  • How the Kansas Department for Children and Families oversees foster care, reintegration and adoption services.
  • What other state agencies and nonprofits contribute to the child welfare system.
  • How children obtain needed services, such as mental health care.
  • Why the number of children in foster care is increasing.

The task force will submit a preliminary report in January, with the final report recommending possible changes to the system due one year later.

The bill had a long path through the Legislature. The House Children and Seniors Committee inserted the task force language into the shell of a Senate bill having to do with child care facilities after spending the first two months of the session collecting testimony about the child welfare system.

DCF objected to language in the bill requiring a “corrective action plan,” which officials said could jeopardize $48 million in federal funding if lawmakers demanded changes that conflicted with federal rules. The committee softened the language in response, though Rep. Jarrod Ousley, a Merriam Democrat and one of the bill’s most vocal backers, said he thought it was clear the task force would only make recommendations to the Legislature.

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