Work in partnership to advocate for Kansas children and families

2021 Policy Agenda

BUILD ON FAMILY FIRST SUCCESS & PREVENT CHILD MALTREATMENT

We support Kansas’s early implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act prevention services. We urge the Kansas Legislature to maintain that commitment to evidence-based prevention services as a central focus of long-term efforts to reduce maltreatment and improve the lives of Kansas children. Over the long term, effective prevention initiatives taken to scale will dramatically improve outcomes for Kansas kids and sharply reduce foster care caseloads, improving the stability, responsiveness, and effectiveness of our state’s foster care system.

STRENGTHEN ACCESS TO SUPPORTS FOR KINSHIP CAREGIVERS

Many children entering foster care can and should be cared for by extended family to reduce the traumatic impacts of being removed from their loved ones. Kinship families and caregivers need assistance through equitable supports and coaching and through reduced barriers to full foster parent licensing. Improving Kansas’s support for kinship families will increase child wellbeing, reduce times to permanency, and strengthen long-term family networks for reunifying parents.

BUILD SUPPORTS FOR YOUTH WITH COMPLEX NEEDS

Some older youth in Kansas are unable to access timely, critical care that effectively addresses needs that fall “in between” systems of juvenile justice, substance use, developmental disability, mental health, and child welfare services – which means youth with the highest needs in Kansas have the least access to coordinated and streamlined care. Within the context of mental health needs exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and the suicide epidemic in Kansas, Kansas youth are in crisis. The Alliance supports efforts to develop coordination between systems of care, expand service array, and implement effective crisis services for youth.

PROTECT AND EXPAND SYSTEM OF CARE FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

Children and families in Kansas face child welfare involvement due to risk factors of poverty, as well as untreated mental health and substance use disorder treatment needs. When children are placed in foster care, children and their parents must have access to critical supports in order to facilitate timely, permanent family environments for children. The Alliance supports state budget investments in child welfare providers, mental health care, substance use disorder treatment, and concrete supports for families. Throughout these services, focusing on funding that supports a strong, well-trained child welfare workforce is of critical importance. Further, innovations in telemedicine learned through the COVID pandemic should be expanded as a critical cornerstone of health care for families.