As a lead agency providing child welfare services on behalf of the state, KVC Kansas is intimately involved in helping vulnerable children and families. KVC is a nonprofit that consists of over 750 talented Kansas social workers, therapists, family support workers and other professionals.
On any given day, the KVC Kansas team helps care for thousands of children who have experienced abuse, neglect and other family challenges. We help hundreds of adults struggling with mental illness and addiction. We walk with them to overcome their own childhood adversity, violence and substance use so they become the loving parents or successful adults they dream of becoming. We go into families’ homes to give life-saving hope and help, from preventing suicide to matching children with adoptive families.
Over the last five years, in a significant change from our positive track record, the performance of our agency and our state on several child and family outcomes has started declining. This is as concerning to us as it is to the public. We are dedicated to providing high-quality, effective services to children and families. For many years we excelled at this, helping the state achieve national leadership in areas such as caring for children in families instead of group homes and preventing children from reentering foster care.
What’s Changed in the Last 5 Years?
So, what’s changed over the last five years? What challenges is the Kansas child welfare system facing, and more importantly, what are the top solutions that will quickly and effectively address them?
See this infographic (updated in June 2018) to learn about the complex factors that are impacting children and families across the state.
Let’s Strengthen Families
Foster care is an important intervention for children who need it. It provides a temporary living situation for children whose parents cannot take care of them and whose need for care has come to the attention of child welfare agency staff.
But could we as communities be doing more to support and strengthen families so that fewer children need foster care in the first place?
The answer is a resounding yes. It is better for children, communities and our state as a whole if we can build supports around families so that children can remain safely with their parents. Investing in approaches that strengthen families and prevent the need for foster care is cost-effective and helps make our communities healthy and prosperous.
At KVC Kansas, there’s much we can do and are doing to safely prevent and reduce the number of children we serve in foster care. We are working hard to strengthen our team and services, while also advocating for specific solutions to external factors.
But KVC Kansas is just one part of the child welfare system. We are working with many dedicated partners including the Kansas Department for Children and Families led by new Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel, the bipartisan legislative Child Welfare Task Force, the court system, the Children’s Alliance, and many other private organizations, individuals, faith-based communities and others who are each helping in critical ways.
We look forward to working with these partners to strengthen our child welfare system and to strengthen Kansas children and families themselves.