Federal audit finds unsafe conditions at Kansas foster homes
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ foster care homes have not been meeting health and safety requirements, even though state inspectors visited regularly, federal inspectors found in an audit.
Foster care children have been living at risk in group homes with broken windows, mold, exposed electrical wiring, trashed porches and rodent droppings, according to the audit by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general.
Federal inspectors dug into the state’s system of group homes in 2018 and 2019, but their final report was just released this week, KCUR-FM reported.
Inspectors visited all 31 group homes licensed at the time to house between five and 24 kids. Twenty-four of the 31 homes violated physical health and safety rules, and 29 broke background check or fingerprint requirements.
Inspectors said walls had holes in them, there were missing windows, subpar fire extinguishers, rundown playgrounds littered with trash, beds without proper bedding, long nails sticking out of wooden stairs and other dangerous debris.
Before the audit went public, the Kansas Department for Children and Families reviewed and responded to the findings, disputing part of the report, saying auditors at times missed important information and documents.
Earlier this month, DCF settled a class-action lawsuit that accused Kansas of failing to provide mental health care to children in foster care, and of putting kids in a different home each night, or even keeping them in offices or other spaces not meant for housing.
Under the settlement, Kansas must work over the next few years to fix those problems and others. It has to make sure foster care sites don’t go over capacity and track whether children end up in jail or the juvenile justice system.
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