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WICHITA, Kansas – In the past couple of weeks, police have removed several children from their homes because of dangerous living conditions.
The kids are then sent to the Wichita Children’s home and where they end up next depends on the state.
The Wichita Children’s Home has served as an emergency residential shelter for children for more than a century.
“By the time they enter our services, they’ve gone through so much,” said Melanie Garrett, Chief Program Officer for Wichita Children’s Home.
Staff members work hand in hand with law enforcement by taking children brought in by police.
“Once we have them in our care we begin to provide for their needs and respond if they’re hungry, they need warm clothing,” said Garrett. “They generally need to be bathed and be given clean clothing.”
Garrett says most of these kids have been abused, neglected, and often times discovered living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
You may remember, several children were taken into protective custody from a home near Central and Grove after a traffic stop.
Officers spotted bug bites all over their bodies. They checked on their home and found there was no food and animals were not being taken care of.
“By the time that they enter our doors usually something has gone very wrong and usually many things have gone very wrong in their lives or they wouldn’t be here with us at that point,” said Garrett.
Another case in the 300 block of Piatt landed two children in protective custody in July.
Police say a 2-year-old girl drank bleach thinking it was water. They discovered human waste and bugs inside.
“Certainly as a mom, I have four myself,” said Garrett. “It’s hard to imagine that children are being put in these circumstances that they are when they come in.”
Garrett believes these circumstances may have been caused by what she calls economic distress for parents.
“They’re worried about a place to live, being able to feed their kids, and basic medical care and that level of stress coupled with probably coming from circumstances where they don’t have much support around them,” said Garrett. “It can lead to higher rate of substance abuse issue.”
Last year, the Wichita Children’s Home helped 2020 children, a 4 percent increase over 2011.
The children’s home will be breaking ground on a new, bigger facility in November to handle the growing number of kids.