TOPEKA – Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Phyllis Gilmore is pleased to announce that as of Jan. 19, Kendra Baker, LBSW, has been named the new DCF Foster Parent and Youth Ombudsman (photo below). Her role is to ensure that foster families’ needs and concerns are addressed quickly and thoroughly.
“Foster parents provide a vital service within the child welfare system,” Secretary Gilmore said. “In a time of great difficulty, they have the ability to show children who are in their care that they deserve love, protection and hope.”
Baker has been with DCF since February 2013, originally serving as a Social Work Specialist. Her role was to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect. She also worked closely with families to ensure safety needs were met. In July 2014, Baker began serving the agency as a Social Work Specialist in the Kansas Protection Report Center. Her job duties included completing initial assessments and screening cases for further agency response.
“I have witnessed first-hand the devastating impacts of child abuse and neglect,” Baker said. “Every child deserves our protection. Foster parents do a great service and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. I will ensure their rights are upheld and their voices heard.”
Baker replaces Niomi Burget, who is now serving as Director of Constituent Services in the Office of the Governor. The Ombudsman role was newly-created in May 2014. Burget began serving as Ombudsman on July 1.
This past summer, the estimated 2,500 Kansas foster homes received a packet in the mail that included a four-page information sheet detailing 20 rights to which they are entitled. It also included a message from Burget with her direct contact information. A webpage on the DCF website was created to serve as a resource for foster parents.
“We want foster parents to know we understand that their role is challenging and very important,” Secretary Gilmore said.
Baker can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by calling 1-844-279-2306. More information, including the complete list of Kansas Foster Parents’ Rights, is available at http://fosterparent.dcf.ks.gov
. These rights are also listed in the DCF Policy and Procedure Manual.
DCF continues to engage foster care stakeholders to improve communication with foster parents and children aging out of foster care.