"Kansas must fix a troubled, under-funded child welfare system now or more vulnerable children across the state will suffer.
That’s the message from members of a coalition that released a report Thursday detailing woes inside the state’s child welfare system — from racial disparities in the children being removed from their homes to kids lingering in state custody too long. The coalition, Strengthen Families Rebuild Hope, spent the past year hosting town hall meetings and identifying what has gone wrong in Kansas and why.
Now, the coalition hopes child welfare leaders and legislators — as well as average citizens across the state — take notice of the problems and solutions proposed in the report.
'The problems are staring us in the face every day,' said Quinn Ried, policy research analyst with Kansas Appleseed, a nonprofit justice center that is a leading member of the coalition. 'Thousands of kids every day are being failed by the system designed to protect them.'
"'We can’t go into another year without having solid answers and resolutions to some of these problems,' said Tara Wallace, president of the African American Foster Care/Adoption Coalition’s Topeka chapter. 'We can’t afford for it to be too late again for our kids. They are more than a number, and a report that’s going to be filed away in somebody’s cabinet — we owe them so much better than this.'"
One way to solve some of the issues facing families, the coalition said, is for the state to improve funding for programs like food stamp benefits and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. In the past four years, money from those programs has decreased significantly in Kansas and families have suffered, the report said."