TOPEKA – In response to the July 24 tragic death of a 10-month-old baby in Wichita, Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Phyllis Gilmore suspended future placements with TFI, the organization that sponsored the home where the child died. Following the inspection of all TFI-sponsored homes, placements with TFI will now resume.
“I felt it was in the best interest of children to suspend placements until all homes could be inspected. Our investigation into the death is ongoing, but placements are once again permitted,” Secretary Gilmore said. “While we know this affected our valued foster families, it was never intended to be an insult to foster parents who have opened their homes to care for children in need. It was simply a safety precaution.”
TFI is a subcontractor for foster care services. DCF’s direct contractors for foster care are St. Francis and KVC. TFI’s contract with the State was not renewed in 2013.
The directive made on July 25 to DCF contractors, following the death, was to assess the safety of all children in TFI-sponsored homes. In homes where children were under seven, the homes were to be inspected within 72 hours. In homes where the children were older than seven, the inspections were to occur within the week.
“During the inspections, St. Francis and KVC social workers addressed with the foster parents any safety concerns and reiterated the importance of removing children from vehicles and refraining from being impaired while serving as a foster parent,” Secretary Gilmore said. “We were pleased to learn that no major issues were discovered. It appears the recent tragedy is a rare exception to an otherwise strong record of foster care child safety in Kansas.”
As part of the investigation into the death, DCF and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have formed a workgroup to assess policies, procedures and practices related to foster care licensing, placements and inspections. The workgroup will begin meeting soon, and it is anticipated that the feedback and recommendations that come from the collaboration, will be available by this fall.