TOPEKA, Kan. -- A Kansas grandmother is continuing her fight for changes within Kansas Department for Children and Families following the death of her grandson.
Judy Conway spent Tuesday afternoon inside a coffee shop talking with a state representative and a child safety expert. The topic: A new bill that would create a watchdog group to oversee Kansas DCF.
“I think it’s so important that we keep the momentum going and do whatever we can,” Conway said.
The bill, introduced earlier this year, would create an office of the child advocate.
The office would be given the power to investigate cases where a child dies while in DCF's system. It could then make suggestions to lawmakers and Kansas DCF for ways to improve.
Conway’s grandson, Adrian Jones, died after a lifetime of abuse in 2015.
“It’s really, really important to me as Adrian’s grandmother to know he didn’t die in vain,” Conway said.
Adrian’s 2,000-page case file revealed Kansas DCF knew he was in danger for years.
State Rep. Jarrod Ousley (D - 24th District) sponsored the bill and was part of Tuesday’s meeting.
“We are failing as a state, we’re failing these kids, these families,” Ousley said.
The bill was introduced after several high-profile deaths.
Last year, Evan Brewer, 3, was found in a make-shift coffin at a home in Wichita where he lived with his mother and her boyfriend.
Records show people placed concerns over Evan’s safety to Kansas DCF prior to his death.
Dianne Keech, a child safety expert who sat in on the meeting, said she personally reviewed both Adrian and Evan’s files.
Keech said DCF didn’t follow protocol in either case.
She said the agency had more than enough information to remove both children from the home.
“It’s outrageous and I want you to know there are children right now subject to repeat maltreatment in Kansas,” Keech said.
Rep. Ousley also wants to give the office of the child advocate the ability to investigate when people complain that Kansas DCF isn’t following up on hotline calls.
“We’re going to keep the conversation going and try to bring this to fruition,” Ousley said.
The bill is currently under review.
Conway said she’s going to continue holding meetings until more is done to ensure the safety of children in Kansas.
“I don’t want anything to become stale,” Conway said. “We, as adults, have to protect these children.”