- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A lobbyist for a Kansas police association has expressed concerns over the way state social workers handle foster care.

Lobbyist Ed Klumpp of the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police told state lawmakers that social workers with the Department for Children and Families can be difficult to contact, supervisors are sometimes unreachable and calls to a hotline to assist with problems may go unanswered.

The Topeka Capital-Journal (https://bit.ly/1Oc9vXe ) reports Klumpp voiced these concerns at a meeting of the Foster Care Adequacy Committee last week. He said that law enforcement officers responding to a situation involving a child in a foster home are left with very limited options, and a last resort is placing the child in protective custody.

Klumpps said that there are many times when law enforcement is called to a home for noncriminal events, where a child isn’t in need of care.

“Where the frustration comes in for law enforcement is where we can’t get that cooperative effort, where these kids are more or less dumped on us to find a solution, and we don’t have the tools to be that solution. And that’s where we get frustrated,” Klumpp said.

Department secretary Phyllis Gilmore acknowledged Klumpp’s statements are concerning. Gilmore says the agency will make any needed corrections. According to the secretary, an email has been sent to regional directors about providing cellphone numbers to law enforcement.

“I, too, found his testimony to be very disturbing this morning. I was very concerned and made several notes to myself to follow up from that,” Gilmore said.

State Rep. Annie Tietze has worked as a court-appointed special advocate for children and says she is familiar with some of the concerns.

“I have heard concerns about the unavailability of help during (nights, weekends) - so I’ve heard those comments,” Tietze said.

The committee, which met on Tuesday, discussed a wide range of topics involving the foster care system. It opted to not make any recommendations for now in regards to Klumpp’s concerns, but recommendations could be made in the future if more meeting days are approved.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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