Kansas Team to Examine Racial, Ethnic Inequities

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ An initiative is under way to ensure racial
and ethnic equity in Kansas child welfare and juvenile justice

The Wichita branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said Tuesday that the governor is being responsive to its concerns about the need for a statewide analysis of the issue. The group met with the governor in September.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday announced an effort by a subcabinet team to determine what needs to be done so that black
and Hispanic children are not over represented in foster care and
juvenile justice systems.

“Kansas must determine what is necessary to reduce the over representation of African American and Hispanic children and youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems,” Sebelius said in a statement. “Regardless of their racial background, children must receive the services needed to ensure safety in their home, timely permanency when removed from the home and positive well-being at every service point.

“Efforts to reduce the level of poverty in Kansas and provide supports for low income working families should have the added benefit of reducing contact with law enforcement and the courts. I believe if we begin to address the issues of poverty in our state we will be better champions of our most vulnerable citizens, and help them to achieve their dreams into the future.”

Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary Don Jordan will lead the initiative. The group is expected to work closely with legislative leaders.

The team will report its findings to the governor's office in the fall of 2009.

The team will partner with agency officials, community leaders, experts and advocates to understand the nature and causes of disproportionality in our state; understand the role poverty plays in contact with the child in need of care and juvenile justice systems in Kansas; identify jurisdictions that face particularly large issues of racial inequality in child welfare and juvenile justice programs; and identify approaches to address these issues.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)