KSN Investigates: Foster family requirements

WICHITA, Kansas – In light of the case of a 10-month-old child being left in a hot car and dying, KSN wanted to take a closer look at the requirements for those wanting to become foster parents.

The case of the child left in the hot car was a tragedy, however the security of the other five children come into question.

One of the requirements of being a foster parent is what makes this case so tragic.

The regulations for foster homes spelled out by the state say that:

“Children less than 10 years of age shall not be left in a vehicle unattended by an adult.
When the vehicle is vacated, the driver shall make certain that no child is left in the vehicle.”

The Department of Children and Families said it will fully investigate whether changes are needed after a child in foster care died Thursday after being left in a hot car.

“It just grieves our hearts that this would happen to any child, and certainly a child in state custody who has already been traumatized by being removed from the biological home,” said Phylis Gilmore, Department of Children & Families Secretary.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which licenses foster homes and parents, told KSN the foster parents in this case were originally licensed in 2010 for two foster children.

That was later amended to allow four foster children in the home.

“We are looking at the environment of the home to see that it is constructive and maintained in a way that protects the health, safety and welfare of the children who are going to reside there,” said Daric Smith with the KDHE.

The foster home was sponsored by TFI Family Services, a company that is still allowed to sponsor state-approved foster homes, but whose placements have been suspended in light of the investigation. The company lost a contract negotiation in 2013 to provide child placement services for the Department of Children & Families to Saint Francis Community Services, which covers Sedgwick County and the western two-thirds of the state, and KVC, which operates in eastern Kansas and the Kansas City area.

“The responsibility to see that the family foster home meets with initially and continues to comply with the regulations of KDHE is the child placing agency that sponsors the home,” said Smith.

The state has directed Saint Francis and KVC to inspect the TFI sponsored homes and ensure whether training policies should be upheld.

”Do they understand the basics of child welfare, what adoption is like, they talk about partnership and how to work together with the different agencies and different people in the agencies,” said Nina Shaw-Woody, a supervisor with Saint Francis Community Services.

State officials did not put a timetable on how long their investigation could last, but say they want to be as thorough as possible to make sure they don’t miss anything.

KSN researched the pay rates for taking in a foster child:

  • $22 per day, per child, for a base rate
  • $50 per day, if the child has special development needs
  • $115 per day, for therapeutic family foster home, which provides 24-hour care to high-risk children
    who may be aggressive or rebellious.
  • $36 per day, for emergency homes, which provide 24-hour care on an emergency basis (short-term)
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