TOPEKA (TNS) — Kansas is asking that reports of child abuse and neglect be made by phone for now because of computer problems.
The Department for Children and Families has several computer systems that were not accessible as of late Monday, the agency said.
"While the systems are unavailable, we continue to process welfare benefits applications, and we continue to respond to reports of child abuse and neglect," DCF secretary Phyllis Gilmore said.
"However, due to the email and web systems being unavailable, we ask that all reports of abuse and neglect be made by phone, at this time."
The Kansas Protection Report Center is returning calls and taking reports and those considered high priority will be addressed immediately, the agency said. And, like normal, immediate concerns of abuse and neglect should be reported to 911, DCF said.
The problems come ahead of a switchover later this month to a new system, called the Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, or KEES. The upgrade will begin Friday and while DCF will continue accepting new welfare benefit applications, processing times may slow.
Some applicants have already been experiencing long wait times ahead of the launch of the upgrade. One applicant The Eagle spoke to last week had waited more than five hours in the lobby of the Wichita DCF office.
A DCF email released by the employees' union cited waiting times as long as 6 1/2 hours. Robert Choromanski, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, has said the rollout of KEES has been chaotic.
"Interviews are being done in the lobby and by phone with notes being taken on paper," KOSE tweeted Monday.
DCF said it learned of the problems on Saturday during regularly-scheduled maintenance by the state Office of Information Technology Services.
"We have been assured by OITS that this outage was not caused by the scheduled computer system upgrade that is currently being tested and is set to begin Friday," Gilmore said.