Proposal: DCF asking for additional $16.5 million over next two years

TOPEKA (CAPITOL BUREAU) The Department for Children and Families is expected to receive an additional $16.5 million dollars over the next two years. The money which will be included in the state budget will be used for department enhancements.

“There have been a lot of issues facing DCF and I’ve asked secretary Meier-Hummel to do a top to bottom review, part of that is that we do need some additional positions and some additional funding in order to make sure that we solve problems and that’s what this about,” said Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer.

This will be largest investment in DCF in recent years.

“We know that there are lots of opportunities and challenges ahead of us, and so this money just serves as a platform to help us do some reform efforts that we know are needed,” said DCF Sec. Gina Meier-Hummel.

Meier-Hummel explained half the money will be used for preservation and prevention work.

“Obviously the more we preserver families the less children who need to enter out of home care, the less children enter the foster care system, the less stress there is on that system as a whole, so it absolute is the right place to aim the majority of the money,” added Meier-Hummel.

DCF has come under scrutiny the past year, after 77 foster children were reported missing from the foster care system, and allegations the agency didn’t do enough to protect children victims. Meier-Hummel, who took over the department in November, said she’s reviewing all cases in which children ended up injured or dead.

Meier-Hummel and Lt. Gov. Colyer also said a bill would be introduced this session that would change the law and offer more transparency within the department, however no more details on the bill were released.

“We’ll introduce some new language in the “Child Need of Care Law” and will hopefully allow for more transparency, but certainly the legislature will have to decide ultimately if that’s what they want to do,” explained Meier-Hummel.

The full budget will be presented to the legislature later this week, however Colyer said DCF is one of the higher priorities which is why they made the investment announcement Monday.

“I think there is a lot of consensus across the state that we need to do somethings with DCF and so that is why it is a priority,” said Colyer.

The investment would still need approval from the full legislature.

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