Kansas welfare chief seeks more money for preventing abuse - KCTV5 News

Kansas welfare chief seeks more money for preventing abuse

Posted: Updated:
Department for Children and Families Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel outlined initiatives Monday that would cost $24 million over three years. (KCTV5) Department for Children and Families Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel outlined initiatives Monday that would cost $24 million over three years. (KCTV5)
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -

Kansas' top child welfare official on Monday proposed $24 million in additional spending over three years and said her agency needs to hire dozens of workers who are not licensed social workers to conduct investigations into reports of abuse and neglect.

The measures outlined by Gina Meier-Hummel, secretary of the state Department for Children and Families, would be on top of the two-year, $16.5 million package she and Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer announced in January. Their first plan was designed to address ongoing problems in the state's foster care system.

Meier-Hummel became DCF secretary in December, after months of growing criticism of the department and her predecessor in the wake of several high-profile deaths of children in abusive homes.

Meier-Hummel acknowledged that dozens of children in state custody still slept in foster care contractors' offices overnight temporarily in recent months, even after she publicly declared it an "unacceptable" practice. As of Monday morning, the state still had 74 runaway foster children missing, with number as high as 90 in recent months.

The secretary said the department is working on speeding up children's placement with relatives or foster homes. But she said DCF has more than 200 child protective services jobs open and cannot find enough licensed social workers to fill them - prompting its plan to hire workers with four-year college degrees if it can get the additional funds.

"I think it's more concerning not to have the positions filled," she said.

Legislators would consider the extra spending after returning from their annual spring break Thursday to wrap up their business for the year.

Meier-Hummel said DCF can change its hiring practices on its own. She said Kansas is among a handful of states hiring only licensed social workers for protective services and that consultants have advised it to make the change.

But Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly expressed concern, saying social workers are trained to understand family dynamics and using other workers "can backfire in a lot of ways."

Lawmakers also were upset to learn last year that dozens of children in the state's care had to sleep overnight in contractors' offices this year because foster homes weren't immediately available and that dozens were reported missing from the state's foster care system. The Kansas City Star reported this weekend that the problems have persisted.

"That means we're not going in the right direction," Kelly said Monday.

Meier-Hummel told reporters that DCF is making progress in addressing the problems.

While some of the additional $24 million sought by DCF would allow it to hire new child protective service workers and to give others raises, much of it would go toward improving the department's information technology systems. Kelly said the improvements are necessary.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Moving nightmare: Kansas City family says movers stole all their belongings

    Moving nightmare: Kansas City family says movers stole all their belongings

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 10:50 PM EDT2018-05-24 02:50:13 GMT
    It can be a personal hell for many, but your average nightmare moving experience could be worse. Just ask the Keith family. (Submitted)It can be a personal hell for many, but your average nightmare moving experience could be worse. Just ask the Keith family. (Submitted)

    Never has anyone ever said moving is fun. It can be a personal hell for many, but your average nightmare moving experience could be worse. Just ask the Keith family. 

    More >

    Never has anyone ever said moving is fun. It can be a personal hell for many, but your average nightmare moving experience could be worse. Just ask the Keith family. 

    More >
  • 2 suspects charged with robbery that was caught on tape in Kansas City Apple Store

    2 suspects charged with robbery that was caught on tape in Kansas City Apple Store

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 9:39 PM EDT2018-05-24 01:39:49 GMT
    Submitted by Kansas City policeSubmitted by Kansas City police
    Submitted by Kansas City policeSubmitted by Kansas City police
    Charges have been filed against two suspects accused of grabbing thousands of dollars worth of electronics from the Apple Store on The Plaza.  Court records show Timothy O'Neal and DeVarrio O'Neal are suspected of stealing from Apple stores in six Texas cities and Apple stores in Mississippi and Arkansas, taking more than $300,000 worth of merchandise. They have been charged with robbery.  The robbery at the Apple Store's Plaza location was caught on camera and went viral...More >
    Charges have been filed against two suspects accused of grabbing thousands of dollars worth of electronics from the Apple Store on The Plaza.  Court records show Timothy O'Neal and DeVarrio O'Neal are suspected of stealing from Apple stores in six Texas cities and Apple stores in Mississippi and Arkansas, taking more than $300,000 worth of merchandise. They have been charged with robbery.  The robbery at the Apple Store's Plaza location was caught on camera and went viral...More >
  • Standoff in Overland Park ends with man's death

    Standoff in Overland Park ends with man's death

    Wednesday, May 23 2018 11:17 PM EDT2018-05-24 03:17:43 GMT
    (Submitted photo)(Submitted photo)
    (Submitted photo)(Submitted photo)

    The Johnson County Sheriff's Office said the man involved in the standoff Wednesday died from a self-inflicted wound.

    More >

    The Johnson County Sheriff's Office said the man involved in the standoff Wednesday died from a self-inflicted wound.

    More >
Powered by Frankly
KCTV 5 News

Online Public File:
KCTV  KSMO

Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, KCTV; Kansas City, MO. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.