Saint Francis Ministries involved in multi-state advocacy efforts

March 2024 · Mission Brief

The Saint Francis Ministries Advocacy Team has remained busy over the last month monitoring bills and working to positively influencing policies that impact child welfare.

Here’s a brief recap by state:

Kansas: The SOUL Family Permanency option bill is inching closer to becoming law. Nearing approval in the House and in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, we’re waiting only for a vote on the Senate floor and the Governor’s signature.

The SOUL Family permanency option would fashion a circle of caring adults to provide Support, Opportunity, Unity, and Legal relationships for young people ages 16 years and older as they move from foster care to adulthood. For youth in foster care, reunification, guardianship, and adoption offer the only legal permanency options. SOUL would provide a fourth option by establishing a legal connection between a young person and at least one caring adult. It differs from adoption and guardianship in that young people would be permitted to make these connections without severing legal ties with their birth parents and siblings. In other words, youth in foster care would have a bigger voice in determining their permanency options. Even now, young people with lived experience in foster care are playing an essential role in making SOUL a reality.

It’s worth highlighting that youth with lived experience contributed to its development, with professional guidance from colleagues Holly Dean-Osborne, vice president of permanency, and Jennifer Walters, independent living supervisor.

Also in Kansas, Saint Francis Ministries recently provided testimony to the Joint Committee on Child Welfare System Oversight.

Nebraska: Legislative efforts to secure funding increases for child welfare providers remain active and feasible.

Oklahoma: Legislation has been proposed to revise the legal definition of neglect to better distinguish between poverty and neglect.

Mississippi: Proposed legislation seeks to modernize language by replacing the term “mental retardation” with “Intellectual Developmental Disabilities” (I/DD)

Any inquiries about Saint Francis Ministries advocacy efforts may be addressed to