Measures clearly must be taken to prevent the Kansas Department for Children and Families from obscuring evidence related to deaths of children in foster care, as well as reports that 70 children on average were missing from their foster care placements.

The situation begs for an impartial investigation into allegations of neglect, abuse and lack of accountability on the part of DCF.

Under legislation the House Judiciary Committee heard recently, DCF would be required to release basic information about child fatalities, including previous reports of mistreatment, the department’s recommendation of services for a child, date of the fatality and the child’s age and gender. …

In her appearance before the House committee, DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel said the previous practice of destroying documents was no longer applied, while steps to reduce the adulteration of reports to conceal errors had also been taken.

House Bill 2728, which received the support of three organizations seeking more transparency in state government, is designed to at least shed some light on operations at DCF. The measure stems, in part, from past failings with reporting practices one worker alleged had covered up previous fatalities. …

The sad case of 3-year-old Evan Brewer’s death sheds even more light on the failings of the agency. Documents that DCF released to the family last week showed that calls regarding the boy, whose body was found last year encased in concrete, had been made to DCF eight times. Mistakes made in the deaths of Kansas children in the foster care system prompted lawmakers to craft a bill demanding information be provided to help prevent such cases in the future. …

At this point, however, citizens of Kansas are seeking answers to a system in which the depth of the agency’s failings also includes children under state care sleeping in offices of contractors. …

That caseload represents a financial burden the state can only deal with responsibly when it obtains as many facts as possible about issues legislators admit they have been apprised of for some time. The state and its lawmakers must be willing to further investigate past problems and apply procedures needed to correct flaws harmful to children in the system. Such neglect cannot be condoned.

— GateHouse Kansas