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Kan. Lawmaker Explores Ending State’s Private Child Welfare Program

Florida child welfare administrators have had a long, troubled history with privatization of foster care services provided to the state’s at-risk, harmed, abused, and needy children. Our children have suffered sexual abuse, child abuse, personal injury, and other harm for years. Florida, it seems, wasn’t the only state with issues. A lawmaker in Kansas, the first state in the U.S. to privatize such care, has written a report on that state’s failures with foster care privatization and now is seeking to rescind the state’s program.

In what had been the first-in-the-nation privatized foster care system, the state legislator looked back on the program’s 20 years, only to see “increasing scrutiny and a record number of children in foster homes,” local media reported. In his report, “When Children Die We Must Act,” the lawmaker concluded that “the mid-1990s privatization wasn’t successful, the Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/1RxWskK ) reported.

“It grieves the author of this report who as an economist fervently believes in private-sector efficiency to categorically state that this program as currently in place ought to be eliminated. Perhaps another method of privatizing services could be studied,” the lawmaker wrote.

The newspaper article about the legislator’s call to rescind privatization uses language that could address Florida’s own problems. The paper wrote, “The Department for Children and Families, which oversees the state’s foster care contractors, has been facing questions and criticism in recent months over the deaths of multiple children in the foster care system.”

Attorneys who fight for the rights of children who have suffered sexual abuse, child abuse, personal injury, and other harm for years have been calling for a review, overhaul or termination of Florida Department of Children and Families’ privatization efforts. Some are emboldened that a once-staunch advocate of a pioneering privatization effort now has seen the abuses that can come from such programs.

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