Kansas Health Institute hosts panel on child welfare legislation
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Health Institute hosted a panel discussion on child welfare legislation.
Kansas Health Institute officials said the 2023 Kansas legislative session included a focus on the welfare of children in Kansas. Legislators considered a number of bills addressing a wide variety of topics, including foster care, adoption and other measures to protect Kansas youth.
According to officials with the Kansas Health Institute, at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, the panel discussion, “Protecting Kansas Children - A closer look at the legislation,” included the following state agency leaders, advocates and lawmakers:
- Susan Concannon, Chair, House Child Welfare and Foster Care Committee,
- Laura Howard, Secretary, Kansas Department for Children and Families,
- Kerrie Lonard, Child Advocate, Office of the Child Advocate,
- Kristen O’Shea, Joint Committee on Child Welfare System Oversight,
- Susan Humphries, House Child Welfare and Foster Care Committee,
- Kristalle Hedrick, Vice President of Kansas Programs, FosterAdopt Connect, and
- Rachel Marsh, CEO, Children’s Alliance of Kansas.
Kansas Health Institute officials said Linda Sheppard, KHI Senior Analyst and Strategy Team Leader, facilitated the panel discussion as they communicated about the legislation that was passed and considered during the 2023 session and addressed issues that may be discussed in the interim and 2024 sessions. Valentina Blanchard, KHI Analyst, facilitated a panel of representatives of child welfare advocacy organizations across Kansas.
Sheppard spoke about youth who struggle to find stable placements in the Kansas foster care system.
“We have some youth that come into our system, older youth, with really high needs,” said Sheppard. “Those are the youth that we are challenged sometimes to find stable placements for, so therapeutic foster care is a great approach to allow us really to wrap resources and supports around foster families to take on those high needs.”
Secretary Howard discussed the goal is to improve the outcomes of children in the Kansas foster care system.
“The goal is to improve the outcomes,” said Secretary Howard. “Potentially to reduce the number of children who are in Kansas foster care system, to make sure that the ones that are in there are receiving the services and the care that they needed.”
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