Audit finds numbers, records lacking in Kansas foster care

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The state needs more licensed foster homes and case workers lack the required experience.

Those are among the findings of a legislative post audit review released Friday. The report was the third of three looking at issues in the Department for Children and Families' foster care and adoption system.

The audit found some the state's foster care contractors often asked supervisors to take on large caseloads because of staff vacancies. Also, while family support workers met or exceeded education requirements, nearly half lacked sufficient experience. The audit noted that, in most cases, it was because the state's two contractors, KVC and St. Francis, misinterpreted their contracts’ experience requirements.

The auditors recommended the contractors either comply with the experience requirements, or meet with DCF to see if the minimum requirements should change. The audit further recommends the legislature consider amending case manager licensing requirements.

The audit also found the state does have enough foster care beds available overall, but many counties and cities are lacking. As of June 30, 2016, about 18 percent of the more than 3,000 children in foster care were placed more than 100 miles from their homes.

The audit recommends DCF improve its management and oversight. It found the agency's data on children - including their removal and placement addresses -- was often incomplete and inaccurate. It also found data lacking that would help determine the most suitable placement for children.

While noting DCF has made great changes in its inspection process, the audit notes it identified 14 children placed in foster homes that were not inspected in a timely manner or not sponsored by a child-placing agency, as required by law.