Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly revealed the decision Thursday to cancel foster care and family preservation grants awarded during the administration of Gov. Jeff Colyer.
Kelly, who took office in January but had raised concerns about the Colyer administration's decision to rush ahead in November with the grants, said the Kansas Department for Children and Families would rebid the state's family preservation program and revise grants awarded to the state's foster care contractors. The governor said she would address her predecessor's lack of transparency and flawed process of selecting grant recipients.
"After careful review, it is clear there are flaws in both the family preservation and foster care grants awarded by the previous administration," Kelly said. "We will work to resolve the inconsistencies and shed more light on the process."
She said DCF sent letters Thursday to Eckerd Connects and Cornerstones of Care terminating the previously negotiated grants for family preservation services in Kansas. That set the stage for rebidding that work.
The recipient of foster care grants -- Saint Francis Ministries, KVC Kansas, TFI and Cornerstones of Care -- were notified of the state’s intent to reopen negotiations. The process of awarding grants for operation of the foster care system won't be completely restarted.
During the administrations of Colyer and Gov. Sam Brownback, the state's handling of foster car children came under intense scrutiny by legislators and child advocates. Controversy surrounded the inability of DCF to account for about 75 children in foster care, a policy allowing hard-to-place foster children to sleep at night in contractors' offices and the brutal death of children within the state's grasp.
In addition, the number of Kansas children in foster care expanded to record levels. About 7,000 children are in state custody.
DCF Secretary Laura Howard said the goal of the reappraisal was to develop a structure providing more stability and clarity in terms of the role of grantees and the state agency.
"To be clear," she said, "we look forward to working with our current contractors to solve these issues and believe that adding new partners will bring long-term stability and years of experience into the child welfare system in Kansas.”
The state decided to extend the preservation contracts for six months and the foster care contracts for three months to provide a window to complete the restructuring.