A Wichita state senator questioned the legitimacy Monday of recommendations by a Kansas child-welfare task force amid debate about legislation developed to secure more federal funding for services to traumatized juveniles.
Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, the first black woman elected to the Kansas Senate, said the task force previously operated without black members while children of color were a majority in the Kansas foster care system. She was appointed to the task force in December.
“There were no African-Americans,” she said. “When we talk about recommendations and the reflections of that task force, I don’t feel it was adequately represented.”
Faust-Goudeau’s comments were part of Senate floor debate on House Bill 2103 altering the state’s approach to placement of children with serious emotional or behavior disorders or disturbances not adequately cared for in a foster care setting.
Under the bill, the Kansas Department for Children and Families would have to notify the district court within seven days of placing a child in a Qualified Residential Treatment Program for psychiatric issues. The court would determine within 60 days whether the child’s needs might be better met through placement in a foster home.
DCF would be required to make residential treatment facilities compliant with the Family First Prevention Services Act, a necessity of drawing down enhanced federal funding.
Faust-Goudeau asked Sen. Gene Suellentrop, the Wichita Republican carrying the bill on the Senate floor, what “evidence-based” treatment programs for children would be in line to receive new federal funding. He couldn’t provide the information.
“If we’re going to be giving them funding, I want them to really be able to measure success as we’re dealing with children in foster care,” Faust-Goudeau said.
Meanwhile, the Senate also advanced to final action Tuesday a bill authorizing the Kansas State Fair Board to establish a nonprofit corporation to handle donations for the Hutchinson fair. Sen. Ed Berger, R-Hutchinson, urged senators to affirm the House’s vote of 122-0 for House Bill 2215. Advocates of the bill said the objective was to provide the fair board more flexibility when planning and raising money for capital improvements.
The legislation should include guidelines making certain the fair foundation takes a conservative approach to investing, said Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence.
“It is my understanding that they would work with the local community foundations for that investment process. It’s not practical for a small startup foundation to do their own investing,” Berger said.
The Senate gave preliminary approval to House Bill 2007, allowing the Kansas Department of Transportation to study feasibility of constructing new toll or turnpike projects. The bill stipulates any toll project could be constructed only to add capacity to the highways.
The chamber also moved ahead with House Bill 2084 to increase the 911 fee assessed telecommunications subscribers to 90 cents per month from the current rate of 60 cents each month. The House previously approved a monthly rate of 82 cents per subscriber.
This article was originally published on The Topeka Capital-Journal website, here.
Paid for by Senate Democratic Committee, Will Lawrence, Treasurer