TOPEKA--Today, a group of organizations and individuals launched Strengthen Families Rebuild Hope, a coalition advocating for reforms to Kansas’s foster care system. At the end of Nov. 2017, 7,347 Kansas children were in foster care, more children than ever before.
As an independent coalition, whose members do not receive state funding for foster care, Strengthen Families Rebuild Hope is interested in advancing reforms that are in the public interest. The coalition’s steering committee members are FosterAdopt Connect; Kansas African American Foster/Adoption Coalition; Kansas Appleseed; Kansas Association of Community Action Programs; Kansas Chapter of National Association of Social Workers; Sister Therese Bangert, Social Justice Office, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth; Carl Burris, former foster care youth; Micah Kubic, executive director, ACLU Kansas; and Natalie Zarate, former foster care youth.
“I joined the coalition so that youth in foster care don’t have to go through what I went through—so they know they have a voice and that people are listening to them,” Zarate said.
Today, there are over 2,000 more Kansas children in foster care than five years ago with the number of children entering the system substantially rising between fiscal years 2011 and 2013 and remaining high since. Strengthen Families Rebuild Hope is researching the roots of Kansas’s foster care crisis and will provide recommendations for ways to better support families and keep kids safe and out of foster care.
“As research is increasingly confirming, our members have noted that as the state increases barriers to important safety net programs for low-income people, instances of child abuse and neglect rise, ultimately increasing the number of Kansas children in foster care" Scott Anglemyer, Kansas Association of Community Action Programs executive director, said.
“Our hope is that the foster care system follows our lead and moves toward intensive collaboration with community partners to provide a culturally appropriate and comprehensive system of care to children and families in need,” Tara Wallace, Kansas African American Foster Care/Adoption Coalition chair, said.
Strengthen Families Rebuild Hope will host community forums throughout Kansas to share concerns and discuss solutions. The first forum will be in Manhattan, Kan. at 6 p.m. at the Manhattan Fire Department (2000 Denison Ave.).
For more information about Strengthen Families Rebuild Hope’s advocacy, please visit www.RebuildHopeKansas.org.
Contact: Christina Ostmeyer
Office: 785-856-0917 | Cell: 785-269-7493