Foster care system responds to foster care child death

WICHITA, Kansas – The Department for Children and Families is responding to the tragic death of an infant, left in a hot car last week.

“I am absolutely devastated by this child’s death that should have been prevented,” says DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore. “DCF is working closely with local law enforcement and the Sedgwick County District Attorney to ensure that justice is being served and that the integrity of the investigation is not compromised by the release of confidential information.”

KSN contacted the current foster care contractors with DCF, KVC Kansas and Saint Francis Community Services, to see if parents are getting training in regards to child safety issues.

“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,” says Nina Shaw-Woody of Saint Francis Community Services.

Foster parents are also required to undergo some remedial training each year if they host a foster child.

But some child advocacy groups say, it takes a village to raise a child, and keep them safe.

“People are calling 911, and that’s good to know,” says Diana Schunn of the Child Advocacy Center in Wichita. “911 is really the call we need to be making because of the ability of law enforcement to be present and on site and assess the situation at that time.”

Schunn said her office sometimes sees three or more cases of child abuse or neglect a day, and says that is only a small percentage.

“That (reported) number may only be 15-percent or less… of the number that is happening,” says Schunn. “Child agencies that work on foster care, they do what they can. But child abuse… needs to be reported any time it’s suspected. We need more people to make that call. Certainly the DCF hotline is one place to start. But 911 is always best if a child is suspected… in danger.”

Secretary Gilmore, meanwhile, says DCF is doing what it can.

“I want to assure Kansans that we are doing everything we can,” says Gilmore. “To uphold our agency’s mission to protect children. Children in need of care deserve safe, loving homes.”

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