OLATHE, Kan. - The number of foster children in Kansas continues to rise and at times it is becoming hard to even get a child in a long term home.
According to the Kansas Department for Children and Families, in the Kansas City region there were 54 days this year where at least one foster child had to sleep in a case manager’s office.
“We do have kids that unfortunately have to remain in the office overnight. We are constantly continuing to look for placement for them throughout the night. We don’t want them to stay in the office. This is what we have to do sometimes to make sure thy are safe, warm and fed that evening,” said Danielle Bartelli, president of KVC Kansas.
KVC Kansas is the DCF contractor for the Kansas City region.
There’s about 7,000 children in the Kansas foster care system. Nearly 1,500 of them live in the Kansas City area and 300 are looking for a long term home.
“Just being apart of a family or someone going to a football game changes a child's life. Just makes a huge difference to see a normal functioning family. I think we take that for granted,” said Bartelli.
KVC Kansas said it has been difficult to place teens and children with behavior issues. Those issues stem from child abuse and neglect.
“They come from traumatic backgrounds sometimes, that does create some challenging behavior that wouldn’t be normal for some children" said Bartelli. "However with some structure and consistent love in a family love, I have seen children change and be successful. A complete 180 when they get in that structured environment.”
Bartelli says it is not ideal for kids to sleep in the office. She says workers are making placement calls as late as 9 p.m. trying to find a child a place to stay.
“I lose a lot of sleep in this field because you worry as if they are your own children," she said. "I worry about my staff having to sleep in the office with these children. They know these kids so well it is hard for them to watch families denied placement of a child and they have to bring the child back to the office.”
Bartelli says they need more foster parents. But if that sounds like a long term commitment that you can’t make she says you can still help.