Lack Of Space In Kansas Leads To Some Foster Kids Sleeping In Offices

Sep 20, 2017

Over the last year, more than 100 Kansas kids placed in the foster care system had to spend the night in offices instead of homes. Kids slept on couches or makeshift beds in the offices of the private organizations that handle foster care placement. It happened because there weren't other facilities available to immediately take them.

Lawmakers and child advocates heard about the issue during a meeting of a foster care task force in Topeka. Republican Rep. Linda Gallagher is one of the group’s members.

“We’re not talking about large numbers of kids where this happens, but to the extent it happens at all it certainly is a concern. I do believe that will be something that this task force and our working groups will be looking into,” says Gallagher.

The secretary of the Department for Children and Families, Phyllis Gilmore, says the agency has been working to increase capacity in the foster care system.

Gilmore says timing can also be a problem. Inopportune times make it difficult to find foster homes on short notice.

“Eight, nine, 10 o’clock at night, those are typical things that do happen, even into the middle of the night. For those reasons it happens,” says Gilmore.

Gilmore says no one wants children to have to sleep in a contractor's office, but she notes it’s a very small number of the thousands of kids in Kansas foster care.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service. Follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda.