Content warning: The article below concerns rape
"After months of headlines about missing runaways, foster children sleeping in offices and high-profile deaths, this was the last thing the Kansas Department for Children and Families wanted to see.
A 13-year-old in the state’s custody reportedly was raped inside a child welfare office in Olathe. And the young man charged with the assault earlier this month also was in Kansas’ care. Both were at the KVC Behavioral Healthcare office waiting to be placed in an available foster home or facility.
'It’s tragedies like that that folks have been deeply worried was going to happen,' said Benet Magnuson, executive director of Kansas Appleseed, a nonprofit justice center serving vulnerable and excluded Kansans. 'It’s one of these moments: if this doesn’t shake us and get us to take action at the deep level that’s needed, I don’t know what will.'
One criticism of the Kansas system, and many state child welfare systems across the country, is that too many kids come into care. Keep kids with their families whenever possible, advocates often say. And concentrate on making that family stronger."
Content warning: The article below concerns rape.
"A Johnson County teenager has been charged with raping a 13-year-old at an Olathe child welfare office where children have been kept overnight because of a shortage of foster care beds...The incident was reported May 5 at the KVC Behavioral Healthcare office, according to police records obtained by The Star.
The youths were at the office that evening awaiting placement in available foster homes or facilities, said Taylor Forrest, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, which oversees KVC’s foster care contract with the state. One staff member was supervising the two teens and another youth, Forrest said.
Lawmakers learned last fall that because of a shortage of foster homes and residential beds, contractors had resorted to having kids — many of them with extreme needs and hard to place — sleep in offices overnight when needed.
Lori Burns-Bucklew, a Kansas City attorney and accredited child welfare law specialist, said she has worried for months about the well being of those kids. 'They talked about those kids being difficult to place,' she said. But 'you’re not going to improve behavior by putting them in an unstable living place. Nobody deserves that.'"
"The Kansas agency in charge of child welfare failed to meet 16 standards for keeping children safe and giving them a stable home over the past year.
The Department for Children and Families this week disclosed a report tracking 30 performance measurements. On more than half, the agency’s performance didn’t meet federal and state standards.
The shortfall shows the agency still needs to improve after a year of intense scrutiny that led to changes in leadership and a push for better performance. The DCF said it has implemented several initiatives to improve.
'I’m not sure that there has been a full acknowledgment of the numbers that are on this sheet,' Benet Magnuson, director of the social justice group Kansas Appleseed, said of the report.
The report covered July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, and used the DCF’s own data. Among its findings: