Kansas Child Welfare Summit Feb. 23, 24 & March 1 & 2


Note: Cross posted from [angelfury@live.com Blog.com] Mothers Global Justice Alliance.


I will be there ‘watching’- recording- documenting & Twittering-


Child welfare summit scheduled


National experts expected to testify to House committee

The hearings are scheduled at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 25 and on March 1 and 2 in the Statehouse, Room 346-S.

By Dave Ranney

KHI News Service Feb. 8, 2010

TOPEKA — The chairman of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee is planning a four-days of hearings on child welfare issues.

“I’m trying to bring in some national experts to talk about best practices on foster care, adoption, family preservation and some other issues,” said Rep. Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.

“We’ll spend a day with the courts – the judges – to see if there are any changes that can be made in the law to make things work better,” Neufeld said.

The hearings are scheduled at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 25 and on March 1 and 2 in the Statehouse, Room 346-S.

Bills in play

The hearings coincide with legislators considering at least five foster care reform bills:

HB 2461 would block the state from renewing its foster care, adoption and family preservation contracts with private contractors.

HB 2494 would prohibit judges from putting a child in foster care solely because his or her parent(s) are homeless.

HB 2511 would allow SRS to pay grandparents to care for grandchildren who’ve been removed from their parents’ custody. Payment would be commensurate with what foster parents are paid.

HB 2512 would order the courts to review Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services placement decisions affecting children in foster care. Without the court’s approval a child would not be moved.

HB 2513 would direct law enforcement to hold a runaway child in a secure facility until a court decides if the child should be in foster care.


Kansas privatized most of its child-welfare responsibilities in 1996. Today, SRS investigates reports of child abuse and neglect and monitors a child’s progress within the system. Direct services are provided by regional contractors.

Several legislators – conservative Republicans, mostly – have been critical of privatization, accusing SRS and the contractors of abusing the rights of parents and grandparents.

In December, Rep. Mike Kiegerl, R-Olathe, accused the contractors of wielding “Gestapo-like powers” in their dealings with parents accused of mistreating their children.

Kiegerl is vice chair of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee.

Neufeld, a former speaker of the House and a key figure in the decision to privatize, said the hearings would focus on child welfare issues rather than specific legislation.

“What we’re looking for, really, is how do we make things better,” he said. “That’s really what this is about.”

SRS and the contractors have cited data showing that while there are exceptions, most children in foster care receive more services, remain closer to home and spend less time in the system than before privatization.

Neufeld said he’s sure there are shortfalls within the system.

“Any program that’s as diverse as this, there are going to be things that don’t happen right,” he said. “But the question to me is: How do we make the system work better and do a better job protecting children in state custody.”

Neufeld is vice president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.






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Note: Cross posted from [angelfury@live.com Blog.com] Mothers Global Justice Alliance.