Work in partnership to advocate for Kansas children and families

2020 Policy Agenda

Invest in system capacity to improve outcomes

DCF has taken concrete steps to increase the agency’s capacity to meet the needs of children harmed by abuse or neglect. Investments in staffing, technology, training and systems integration represent a significant commitment to improving the agency’s capacity. We support plans to maintain and expand those investments. But DCF is not the only child welfare system stakeholder facing capacity constraints. As more children have been taken into the state’s care, service providers have struggled to manage increasing demands on their own staffs, technology and systems. At current reimbursement rates and with current caseloads, providers are hard-pressed to hold the line, let alone make meaningful progress. A 20 percent increase in administrative rates to Child Placing Agencies would position providers to improve outcomes for families.

Safely reduce the number of children in foster care

We support Congress’ Family First Prevention Services Act, and enthusiastically support the work of the Administration and Kansas Legislature to secure funding for a strong start. We urge the Kansas Legislature to maintain that commitment to prevention 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. A coalition of more than two dozen organizations came together to call for a $30 million investment of state funds in Family First to accelerate Kansas’s child abuse and neglect prevention efforts with federal funds.

Expand KanCare

KanCare expansion offers an opportunity to build upon and improve our current Medicaid program. It is estimated that expansion of KanCare to 133% of the federal poverty level in Kansas would cover an additional 150,000 adult Kansans. A parent, foster parent or kinship caregiver’s poor physical or mental health can contribute to a stressful family environment and may impair the health and well-being of a child.

Invest in dual-needs youth 

The strain in the child welfare system has intensified since implementation of juvenile justice reform, which has resulted in an increase in the number of children in the foster care system who need more resource-intensive care. Let us be clear that keeping children out of the criminal justice system, when that can be done safely, is a priority. But children diverted by juvenile justice reform into the foster care system sometimes bring with them behavioral needs that providers struggle to safely meet with current resources. The savings from juvenile justice reform should follow the children and families.