TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas Department for Children and Families struggled to answer questions at the statehouse Tuesday about reports that DCF employees are being asked to shred documents.
This happened during a meeting of the Child Welfare System Task Force. Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) asked about the report while a representative from DCF was testifying. They initially declined to comment.
“They tend to not answer questions they don’t want to answer. It’s just their standard MO,” said Kelly.
Eventually, Kansas DCF admitted they do ask workers to take personal notes out of case files, but did not admit to shredding documents.
“This is not an effort to keep information from the public, but rather an effort to ensure the file only contains facts and observations pertinent to the case,” said Steven Greene, director of policy and legislative affairs at Kansas DCF, during the meeting.
This comes after three Tonganoxie girls went missing while in Kansas DCF custody in October. The girls were found safe, but the case prompted a closer look at the department.
“We’re after any means of improvement to have safer outcomes for our children, whether that’s through transparency, whether that’s through policy, whether that’s through funding,” said Rep. Jarrod Ousley (D-Merriam).
Ousley said he hopes these meetings will mean they can hit the ground running with reform in January. Kelly said lawmakers will be looking at ways to force the Kansas DCF to be more transparent, but she said she doesn’t imagine they will be looking at full foster care reform this year.
Kansas DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. She’s planning to retire in December.