State of Kansas trying to strengthen family unit and avoid foster care

The reasons children end up in foster care are complex. Substance abuse, particularly opioid abuse, has been a large factor nationwide in the rising numbers of children in state custody. Most children in foster care are there due to neglect or parental drug abuse, with a much smaller number of children experiencing physical or sexual abuse.

In response, advocates pushed for passage of Family First Prevention Services Act on a federal level. The legislation allowed money formerly only available for foster care services to be used for prevention. Kansas had to opt to receive federal funds from the program, and did so in the most recent session.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families received 55 grant applications and awarded 18 agencies. Grantees are spread throughout the state and provide a wide range of services. Family First will fund family therapies, substance abuse programs, home visit services and parent skill-building programs. Kinship navigation services, which are resources for grandparents or other family caregivers caring for a relative’s children, will be available statewide.

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