For Immediate Release
March 31, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Kansas Enacts New Standards of Care for Family Foster Homes

Rules Based on Feedback from BEST Meetings

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has adopted new regulations, effective Friday, March 28, 2008, governing family foster homes for children. The regulations provide the foundation for standards of care that give support and guidance to foster parents in providing activities, supervision and care to children in healthy and safe environments.

The regulations are an outcome of the statewide Budget Efficiency Savings Team (BEST) process in which the team generates ideas and recommendations for program and systems improvement within a facilitated consensus building work process. More than 300 foster parents, along with child placing agencies, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS), Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority (JJA) and other child welfare organizations participated.

“The implementation of the new foster care regulations signals an important step in cooperation between the child welfare agencies, foster parents and KDHE,” said Bruce Linhos, Executive Director of the Children’s Alliance. “This cooperative effort has resulted in a process and model for review that balanced the needs of the children we serve and the standards necessary to keep children safe and moving toward permanency.”

As a result of one of the team’s recommendations, Kansas statutes and regulations were changed to provide for fingerprint-based background checks on prospective foster parents. The fingerprint-based check enables KDHE to check nationwide criminal histories and to access child abuse background checks from other states.

“These new regulations will enable the KDHE Child Care Licensing Program to increase protection for children in foster care by performing more thorough background checks,” stated Roderick L. Bremby, Secretary of KDHE. “We are very grateful to the parents, service providers, local and state agencies, educators and other interested parties who provided KDHE with their valuable perspectives and feedback to develop these regulations.”

Based on the successful process used to develop the foster care regulations, KDHE recently chartered an additional BEST Team to address topics in child care regulation. The department and the team members have already begun redesigning the Kansas child care licensing system and standards of care.

“The goal is to design a system that provides a solid foundation for safety, supports quality, early learning and enables child care providers to provide quality care that is available, affordable and accessible,” said Chris Ross-Baze, Director of the KDHE Child Care Licensing Program.

“Working with other child placing agencies in partnership with SRS and KDHE to revise the Family Foster Home Regulations has been a collaborative effort that should produce many positive results,” said Patsy Blalock of KVC Behavioral Health Care. “Foster families and children will benefit from these changes that will help normalize family life for children in state custody.”

“We are pleased that foster families were invited to participate in the revision process, from the initial forums to the recent review of the initial draft of the guidance handbook regarding the new regulations,” said Dennis Finch, President of the Kansas Foster/Adoptive Parent Association. “We would encourage all foster, adoptive and kinship families to establish a positive working relationship with KDHE and other state agencies to promote continued refinements and improvements in the child welfare system.”