Kansas DCF Expands Efforts to Locate, Support Runaways

May 2019 · Ministry News

Children who run away while in foster care received enhanced supports from the Kansas Department for Children and Families, the government agency said in an announcement this week.

DCF is building a broader community outreach effort through changes in the contract with foster care grantees, the release said. The agency has added a requirement that each of the state’s foster care grantees add a dedicated non-case-carrying position in each of their regions. Four positions will be added in May two each for KVC and St. Francis. TFI and Cornerstones of Care will add two each by Oct. 1 for a total of eight. The individuals will work collaboratively and in concert with the agency’s special response team.

Saint Francis Ministries is pleased with the added resources and expanded efforts to address children who run away from placements.

“We have worked in the past with DCF staff to locate children who runaway, and it’s something we address daily on our case management teams now,” said Diane Carver, vice president of child and family services for Saint Francis. “With the renewed focus, dedicated staff will solely be responsible for working collaboratively with DCF and the community in efforts to locate youth who have chosen not to remain in their placement.”

Cheryl Rathbun, chief clinical officer, said the reasons why children run from foster care tend to fall into two primary categories: wanting to be with family and friends and being unhappy in their placements.

“They are usually running to something versus away from something,” she said. “The majority of youth run away to a friend’s home, including boyfriends and girlfriends. About one-third spend their first night at a relative’s home, and most return to care quickly after they run away.”

Saint Francis has seen positive results and success from treatment offered through its SecureCare facility that opened in Wichita in July 2018. That facility’s focus is on helping children who are chronic runaways, and it currently has 18 beds for girls in foster care.

Creating two new positions that will focus on addressing the complex issues around foster care runaways will support that clinical treatment work, and also help Saint Francis continue to track down children who run, Carver said.

On a daily basis, case management personnel look for children who run away, scouring their online social media accounts for activity, reaching out to family, friends, and others in their lives to see if they’ve had contact and taking additional measures, she said.

“We appreciate DCF’s commitment to putting supports in place to help these children,” she said. “We’re excited to see the difference these new positions will make.”

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