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Kansas Children Entering Foster Care is at Lowest Point Since 2006


~~DCF’s Focus on Prevention Helps Agency Achieve Milestone~~

By the Kansas Office of the Governor


TOPEKA, Kan. — Governor Laura Kelly announced today that for the first time since 2006, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) had fewer than 3,000 children enter foster care during the 2023 state fiscal year, which runs from July to June. This achievement underscores the agency’s commitment to prevention-focused innovations.

“Since I became governor, DCF has been laser-focused on repairing our state’s child welfare system and keeping families together,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “This milestone shows the progress we’ve made, but it’s clear that there is still much more work to do. That is why I will continue to work with the legislature to invest in providing greater health, educational, and housing resources for families in need.”

DCF’s data above shows that since 2019, there has been a 28% drop in youth entering foster care. This is largely due to programs and services that were started during the Kelly Administration, including:

Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) –Kansas was one of the first states in the nation to adopt the FFPSA, which connects families to evidence-based community programs, including mental health and substance use services, with the goal of preventing the need for placing a child outside their family. To date, nearly 89% of children and youth who have reached 12 months from the time of referral have remained home without the need for foster care. Governor Kelly and the Kansas legislature provided additional state general funds in the state budget to expand statewide Family First programs like Multisystemic Therapy and substance use disorder services.

Team Decision Making – As part of DCF’s Kansas Practice Model, Team Decision Making allows child welfare practitioners to use their skills to engage with families prior to removing a child into care to assist with needed services to support safety and well-being.

Expanded mental health services – DCF partnered with Carelon to establish the Family Crisis Response Helpline across the state. The agency is now able to better serve families and caregivers who have children experiencing emotional crises or other behavioral health symptoms, including substance use disorder. The service provides a centralized behavioral health crisis helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for screening and stabilization services.

Thriving Families, Safer Children – This innovative approach aims to support families before there is a need for formal contact with DCF. The agency is working with and supporting communities to recognize existing services or create additional services to assist families. The agency wants to switch the thinking for educators, health care workers, and the community at large from a mindset of being a mandated reporter to being a mandated supporter. DCF awarded $1.7 million in grants in January 2023 to create 10 new Family Resource Centers across the state. The centers serve as a community hub to provide easier access to programs and services, including job skills training, early childhood programs, and nutrition services.

“As an agency, we know how important it is that we narrow the front door to the child welfare system,” said DCF Secretary Laura Howard. “We will continue to seek and develop groundbreaking programs that connect Kansas families with needed resources and services.”