DCF: Big changes coming to Kansas' foster care system

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Department for Children and Families outlined plans on Thursday to address issues in the state's foster care system that led to a civil lawsuit.

DCF believes the plan will create more beds, reduce the number of runaways, and ensure kids are safe once placed.

The biggest change is dividing the state's foster care system into eight separate regions, with an agency in each awarded a grant to oversee the area.

"This is the culmination of months and months of work on our part to hear Kansans and to listen to our staff and to make sure that we were addressing concerns folks had in our current structure." DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel explained.

Meier-Hummel points out having separate regions will keep a better eye on kids and ensure the best use of resources.

"This is a great example, right now we are only utilizing 50 percent of our capacity of foster homes when we know that we have kids who have needs." Meier-Hummel said.

The new system also should keep children closer to their blood relatives which is a large reason many of them run away from foster homes.

"In order to get kids to permanency which is the ultimate goal of children and care, you have to have them placed locally,” Meier-Hummel said. “In order for them not to experience trauma you have to have quietness in the placement system."

DCF is also implementing an updated and unified Placement Matching System. It will provide a real-time database of every licensed foster home or residential bed in the state, regardless of which child placing agency sponsors the home.

"The oversight will take place at the individual case level to make sure the right things are happening for children and families. It will look at outcomes, it will look at performance, it will look at the financial pieces.” Meier-Hummel explained. “So we're talking individual, micro, and macro, we're truly on performance and outcomes."

The new system will cost an additional $35 million each year -- it will begin next July.

The map above shows divided regions and listed below is their corresponding organization in that area.

Area 1: St. Francis Ministries
Area 2 : St. Francis Ministries
Area 3: KVC Kansas
Area 4: TFI
Area 5: Cornerstones of Care
Area 6: KVC Kansas
Area 7: St. Francis Ministries
Area 8: TFI