WICHITA, Kan. -- The Kansas Department for Children and Families is asking its contractors and subcontractors to no longer place children in homes associated with a Wichita faith-based organization.
A department spokeswoman says the move is being made out of an abundance of caution as the department continues to look into complaints about interactions between its Wichita office and FaithBuilders.
State legislators are criticizing the department for not releasing results of a review that was completed Oct. 10.
"It does, I think, raise issues that bring to our attention the need to have a full and open discussion about this really important area," Rep. Dennis Hedke, R-Wichita said.
Hedke is concerned that the Department for Children and Families has not been more open about allegations that its Wichita office broke confidentiality laws by providing confidential information to FaithBuilders.
"When you're dealing with children's lives and families' lives and these potentially really intense issues, then I think it makes really good sense for us to know as much as we can," Hedke said.
The internal DCF review started after complaints alleging that FaithBuilders -- which provides respite and foster care as well as mentoring for parents facing crises -- had encouraged some parents to place their children into temporary foster care and then sign away their parental rights so the children could be adopted.
FaithBuilders' executive director Andrea Dixon referred all questions to the organization's attorney Gary Ayers. Ayers said the allegations are not true.
He said FaithBuilders has served more than 400 children over the past seven years and 350 of those were returned to their families. FaithBuilders' website says, "We mentor moms and dads to help break generational cycles of destructive behavior and keep families intact."
In a telephone interview with KAKE News, Ayers said he and Dixon also have not seen the DCF report. Ayers said when asked, the department's general counsel who conducted the investigation said FaithBuilders had not committed any wrongdoing.
DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said in an e-mail that DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore decided the results of the review would be "kept confidential because of concerns regarding children in her care and personnel matters."
Gilmore has also decided she needs more information.
"She now has several people combing each DCF case in which FaithBuilders was involved," Freed's statement said. "We expect to have a complete, public report available as soon as possible."
While the additional review happens, the department has asked its contractors and subcontractors to not place children in homes associated with FaithBuilders.
DCF's regional director for Wichita, Diane Bidwell, resigned from the department effective Oct. 18. The department said Bidwell's resignation was voluntary and was not related to the investigation.
Freed, the DCF spokeswoman, also said the department has not received any complaints about FaithBuilders from families of children placed in foster care.
"So far, we have not received any formal complaints from families regarding Faith Builders," she said via e-mail. "If any families have specific information, please let us know so that we can do the best job possible in determining whether placements are appropriate."