"According to an expert advocate, the Kansas foster care system is in crisis.
Benet Magnuson, Executive Director of the Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, discussed contributing factors and possible solutions to the increasing number of children in the Kansas foster care system during a Lunch and Learn Tuesday afternoon at the Salina Public Library. The presentation was organized by the Salina League of Women voters.
At the end of June 2018, there were about 7,600 Kansas children in foster care who were removed from their original home due to neglect, physical or sexual abuse, substance use, problems in the parent-child relationship, or other concerns. Children leave the foster care system when they are can be safely reunited with their original family, are adopted by another family, or age out of the foster care system.
The number of Kansas children in foster care increased by more than 46% in the last seven years, according to data from the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF), which represents about 2,400 additional kids."
"Child welfare workers investigating abuse and neglect are supposed to carry a maximum caseload of about 15.
But in the Kansas City area, workers for the Kansas Department for Children and Families recently carried an average of 55 cases. Statewide, the number was 38.
“It’s disturbing and shocking to see these numbers and all the other numbers coming out recently,” said Benet Magnuson, executive director of Kansas Appleseed, a nonprofit justice center serving vulnerable and excluded Kansans. 'It’s also pretty disturbing to think that the system wouldn’t be aware of these problems that have been going on many years. ... I would say that some people have been sounding the alarm.'
Overwhelming caseloads can be too much for workers, said Lori Burns-Bucklew, a Kansas City attorney and accredited child welfare law specialist.
'That’s an area of work where people are prone to secondary trauma and burnout,' Burns-Bucklew said. 'No wonder it is hard to keep workers if they have that high of caseload.'"