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Newsroom Secretary Meier-Hummel Makes Necessary Changes in DCF Wichita Region

Since starting at the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) on Dec. 1, Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel has made it a top priority to conduct an internal top-to-bottom review of the agency. This review has included assessing the DCF Regions, reviewing cases, conducting interviews and evaluating policies, procedures and program effectiveness. Additionally, Secretary Meier-Hummel has met with multiple stakeholders across the state to gather constructive feedback. Simultaneously, DCF has been partnering with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy with expertise in child welfare, to conduct a thorough review on the front-end of our child welfare system. Annie E. Casey Foundation has been working with us in Kansas for several months and their review continues as they look at the Kansas Protection Report Center (KPRC) and our Assessment and Prevention Services. 

Earlier this week, Secretary Meier-Hummel promoted Family Preservation Services Program Administrator Thomas Buell to serve as the Wichita Regional Director. This change is only one in a long list of improvements Secretary Meier-Hummel has recently initiated in the Wichita Region, as a result of ongoing, continuous reviews and assessments. 

“As I looked at each region, it became evident that there were concerning trends in the Wichita Region we needed to address,” said Secretary Meier-Hummel. “Quite simply, if we aren’t fulfilling our mission to serve the children and families of Kansas to the best of our abilities, then critical changes are needed. Therefore, effective today, DCF will be making a number of personnel changes. In addition, we are also implementing corrective action plans in child welfare programs.”

In the last several weeks, two staff members have been dismissed and several other matters are currently pending while we further investigate work performance. Work performance will continue to be reviewed across the state. Currently, Secretary Meier-Hummel and Deputy Secretary of Family Services Susan Gile are in the Wichita Region to oversee these changes, review cases and provide support to staff. Secretary Meier-Hummel remains committed to improving the DCF Wichita region, evidenced by this fourth, much-needed trip in her first six months at the agency.

“Across the board, the vast majority of our staff are hardworking, dedicated individuals who change the lives of Kansas children and families every day, but we cannot shy away from issues that arise as we review our systems,” said Secretary Meier-Hummel. “I have absolute faith in Thomas Buell’s leadership. I know he will come alongside the Wichita Region staff to strengthen our programs.” 

In addition to enforcing corrective action plans and making personnel changes, Secretary Meier-Hummel has also stationed administrative staff at the Wichita Service Center for the past four weeks to help review open child abuse and neglect cases, and to strengthen oversight in the region. This practice will continue into the foreseeable future to offer support to the dedicated staff in the Wichita Region. 

“In speaking with Wichita Region staff, they are grateful for the support, leadership and changes being made,” said Secretary Meier-Hummel. “It should be noted that prior to my arrival, there were vacancies going unfilled and they were lacking leadership and advocacy at the regional level, leaving staff unsupported. This week, we are in the process of interviewing approximately 20 individuals to fill vacancies. I am truly grateful for our staff in this region and their continued focus as we continue to strengthen our programs. As Secretary of this agency, I will continue to look to make crucial improvements to our system statewide that will ensure we are providing the best possible service to the people of Kansas.”