Bill would require DCF contractors to record how they spend state money

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The first proposal to fix the state's foster care program is now in the books.  Reforming DCF is one of the top items lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they want to work on this year.

"Some children will show up at a foster family's home, they don't have decent shoes on.  Then the foster family has to go and purchase shoes," said Sen. Oletha Faust Goudeau, (D) Wichita.

She says the agencies DCF contracts with to run the foster care system are supposed to reimburse families for that money.  But there's no requirement to keep track of the reimbursements, or any other spending.  In some cases, Faust Goudeau says, the foster family never gets the money.  

"I want to know where that money goes because basically the buck stops after the contractors receive that funding," she said.

That's what she hopes the bill she's filed will fix.  It not only requires contractors to keep records of how they spend every cent they get from federal and state coffers, it also requires those agencies to put any savings back into providing support services for children, such as hair care for African American girls. 

"They will go into a foster family home with long ponytails and then the foster family may not be able to or know how to take care of their hair, so they will cut their hair where they look like little boys," Faust Goudeau says, relating stories she's heard from constituents.

The bill would also require written plans of action to help at risk families avoid losing children to the system .  The documentation would help answer questions about why certain decisions were made.

"Have a plan and work that plan," she said.

Faust Goudeau based this bill off similar legislation in Seattle, Washington.  It's the third time she's filed it. But she says, with the legislature's appetite to reform DCF this year, she's hopeful it will finally pass.

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