Kansas Department for Children and Families

Trevor Coultart / flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Department for Children and Families announced a new effort to increase child support collections for Kansas families. The agency’s Child Support Services division has started sending text messages to remind non-custodial parents of their obligation.

The text messages are an attempt to encourage people to pay their child support. Texts will be sent out when the parent is 45 days late with a payment.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A panel of Kansas lawmakers has voted not to audit a state agency to see if there’s discrimination against same-sex couples. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, an audit would have looked for discrimination when it comes to foster care and adoption.

In a letter to the committee, the head of the Kansas Department for Children and Families said the agency doesn’t discriminate against same-sex couples. That was enough for Republican Sen. Jeff Longbine to suggest they hold off on an audit.

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

Nearly a quarter of social workers with the Kansas Department for Children and Families left the job in the yearlong period ending Dec. 1, and job vacancies increased by more than two-thirds at the same time.

DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore told the House Children and Seniors Committee on Tuesday that recruitment and retention were areas of focus for the agency, and its strategic plan also pointed to a need to hold on to employees. But that’s a challenge for DCF in part because social workers can make more money with other employers, she said.

Stephen Koranda

The head of the Kansas Department for Children and Families says concerns over discrimination against same-sex foster parents are causing a distraction.

The comments from Secretary Phyllis Gilmore came at a committee meeting at the Statehouse on Tuesday. Gilmore said the allegations are being politicized and taking focus away from other issues.

“If ever the distraction of that issue for political means results in a child’s death, I would say shame on the legislators who are politicizing it,” Gilmore says.

A foster family's structure should be an important factor when Kansas places abused and neglected children in temporary homes, a legislative panel said Monday in a recommendation that one lawmaker said would encourage discrimination against gays and lesbians.

A House-Senate committee studying foster care issues wrapped up its work just minutes before lawmakers opened their annual session.

The foster care study approved a recommendation that the Department for Children and Families use "evidence-based" factors in placing foster children.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A Kansas legislative committee has concerns about the way the state is handling the placement of foster children, but the committee delayed taking any action until next month.

Rep. Jim Ward wants an audit of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, because he says evidence of wrongdoing can’t be released due to confidentiality laws. The Wichita Democrat says an audit could reveal discrimination by DCF against same-sex couples.

dcf.ks.org

Gov. Sam Brownback says he favors an audit of the state's foster care and adoption programs.

The governor made the comments Tuesday amid criticism that the Department for Children and Families discriminates against same-sex couples in adoptions and foster care.

Kansas Department for Children and Families

A key official in the Kansas Department of Children and Families is retiring amid a controversy about the agency’s handling adoption cases involving same-sex couples.

Michael Myers, who oversees the foster care and adoption, is retiring at the end of the month after about a year in the job.

dcf.ks.org

The recent arrest of a Topeka couple on child abuse charges is raising questions about a custody battle that some say illustrates a pattern of discrimination against gays seeking to adopt.

The 2014 custody case pitted a same-sex couple from Wichita against Jonathan and Allison Schumm, the Topeka couple now facing child abuse charges. Jonathan Schumm is a member of the Topeka City Council.

kac.org

Kansas child care advocates say the state’s new welfare law could jeopardize a $42 million federal grant. State officials disagree.

The welfare law at issue was passed by conservative Republicans to tighten eligibility requirements and move low-income Kansans off welfare and into jobs.

Some of the changes in the law could make it harder for some welfare recipients to maintain their eligibility without interruption, says Shannon Cotsoradis, CEO of the nonprofit advocacy group Kansas Action for Children.

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