Local grandmother and other activists gathered in front of the Kansas Department for Children and Families this afternoon to fight for family preservation in Wichita. Multiple families claim they've had children thrown into the foster care system without allowing them to take custody of their relatives.
Juanita Ridge isn't afraid to let her voice be heard. She bravely picked up a megaphone and said, "you picked the wrong people's children to mess with. We love our children!"
She feels the Department for Children and Families did her an injustice after her grandchildren were taken away from their mother and put into foster care.
She said, "she was taken to jail. I was there so I should have been able to get the grandchildren. But they didn't even give me an opportunity to get my grandchildren."
That's what brought Juanita and others to the local DCF office, with signs, to protest.
"We're bring attention, this is a catalyst to bring attention," said Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau.
"DCF or someone with the state needs to start educating Wichita police officers what their supposed to do and what the policies and procedures are regarding these children that they come into contact with," said Wichita activist Mike Shatz.
DCF officials wouldn't comment on camera but released this statement:
"The Kansas Department for Children and Families takes seriously its responsibility to ensure the safety of children. It is always our top priority to keep children in their homes when it is safe to do so. When our trained social workers feel removal is appropriate, they work closely with law enforcement and the courts to make a recommendation of removal. The decision to remove a child ultimately rests with the court. Even after a child enters foster care, the goal is still reunification of the family. We are happy to walk alongside parents to provide the resources they need to maintain a healthy and safe home for their children."
Ridge hopes this protest can provoke changes within the DCF system.
"My hope is that Sedgwick County will begin to modify it's own policies," Ridge said. "That they follow their process to allow the grandparent who is readily available and capable."
According to DCF about 30% of children who are removed from their home are placed with relatives.