WICHITA, Kansas — Democratic Representative Ed Trimmer is calling for correction at the Kansas Department for Children and Families, or DCF, after KSN’s five-month long investigation into case response time aired Tuesday night.
Our investigation revealed concerning information about the events that led up to the December 2014 death of 10-year-old Wellington boy, Caleb Blansett.
Rep. Ed Trimmer, who represents state district 79, which includes a portion of Winfield, said that after viewing our story, he believes Caleb Blansett’s death “could have been avoided.”
“If we had had a quicker response and we had case workers that had lower case loads so they could more easily work these cases, there might have been greater attention paid to this case,” said Rep. Trimmer.
Trimmer spoke with KSN News via FaceTime on Wednesday, while attending legislative meetings in Topeka.
“People get neglected and this is an extreme example of that,” said Trimmer.
The constituents Trimmer represents have alerted him to concerns about staffing problems at DCF, especially after the state closed down the Wellington office, then SRS, in 2011 and moved it to Winfield.
“The case workers really have had a huge increase in their case loads and it makes it very difficult to function,” he said.
State lawmakers, faced with the difficult task of tackling the current budget, has led to funding cuts to core services across the state, including the Department for Children and Families.
Trimmer tells KSN, for DCF, it has meant an overwhelming case load, possibly even resulting in delayed response times.
“They need to be taken seriously and acted upon immediately,” Rep. Trimmer said, referring to allegations of abuse and/or neglect. “So that we don’t have these lag times that you talked about in your article.”
Rep. Trimmer says the state of Kansas must learn from Caleb’s tragic death.
“We need to avoid these things. This is tragic, but, if we don’t learn from this, then, we don’t move forward,” said Trimmer.
Trimmer also called attention to necessary transparency changes at DCF, and across the state.
“I hope that the department will be more transparent on what really happened in this situation so we can look at efforts to correct these kinds of problems before they happen in the future,” said Rep. Trimmer. “There needs to be more transparency, and that’s a growing problem, I think, in Topeka right now.”
KSN reached out to the cabinet-appointed secretary for DCF, Phyllis Gilmore, asking for comment on our investigation and requesting an on-camera interview. As of air time Wednesday, we have not yet heard back.