TOPEKA –Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Phyllis Gilmore announced this afternoon in Topeka, a new effort to help foster parents. A Foster Care and Family Services Ombudsman will begin serving foster parents who have specific issues or concerns that need to be addressed.
Niomi Burget currently serves as Director of Client Services for DCF. She will assume the new role of Ombudsman beginning July 1. Her office will be located in the Topeka DCF Service Center. A new toll free phone number will be established by that date for foster parents to call when they need help resolving a problem.
“Niomi has a heart for helping others and she will do a tremendous job serving foster families in Kansas,” Secretary Gilmore said. “Creating an Ombudsman position to help foster parents is just a starting point; we will continue to look at other ways we can let foster parents know they are needed and appreciated.”
The announcement was made during a foster care informational event at the Kansas State Capitol Building. A packed room was filled with foster families and foster care stakeholders who heard from Governor Sam Brownback, Secretary Gilmore and Topeka foster parent Tim Wilson. The Governor urged Kansans to consider foster care.
“There is a need and if we don’t step up to help, we’ll see more kids struggling,” Governor Brownback said.
The Governor commended the Wilson family who have fostered 18 children. Tim Wilson shared his story of foster care with those in attendance.
“All of the children we have fostered have been reunited with their biological families, and that’s the goal,” Wilson said. “If you have love and a home, consider foster care.”
The informational stakeholder groups included KVC, St. Francis, Children’s Alliance, DCCCA, Ember Hope, Global Orphan Project, KCSL, KFAPA, KYAC, Project Belong, Safe Families, TFI and Wichita Children’s Home.
The news conference was followed by lunch provided by KVC and St. Francis, and music was performed by the Topeka High School jazz band. Legislators were invited to speak with foster families and organizations to learn more about the foster care system.
FOSTER CARE STATISTICS:
• There are currently 6,019 children in foster care in Kansas.
• Approximately 2,500 family foster homes are licensed in Kansas.
• Approximately 380 children are available for adoption in the state.
• 96 percent of children in foster care are placed in a family-like setting.
• The average age of a foster child is eight.
• 43 percent of children in foster care are under six; 15 percent are 16 or older.
• Children who will be reunited with their parents, spend an average of eight months in
• To be a foster parent you must:
o Be at least 21
o Pass background checks
o Have sufficient income
o Participate in a family assessment
o Complete training
o Obtain sponsorship
o Complete first aid training
o Be licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment
Niomi Burget, DCF Foster Care and Family Services Ombudsman