Kansas lawmakers confident new welfare chief can fix agency

Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, right, announces the appointment of Gina Meier-Hummell of Lawrence to serve as secretary of the Department for Children and Families. during a press conference on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, at the Kansas statehouse in Topeka, Kan. (Chris Neal/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP)
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators upset with problems at the state's child welfare agency appear confident that its new top administrator can fix them.

The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Friday unanimously recommended confirming Gina Meier-Hummel as secretary of the Department for Children and Families.

The full Senate plans to consider Meier-Hummel's appointment next week, and she is expected to have little trouble winning confirmation. She has been acting secretary since December.

The department has faced intense scrutiny over several deaths of children in abusive homes in recent years.

One case involves a 3-year-old Wichita boy whose body was found last year encased in concrete. Records show that the state received at least eight reports the boy was being abused.

But several senators told Meier-Hummel she already has improved the agency.