WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — This week marks two years since the death of 17-year-old Cedric Lofton.
On Sept. 24, 2021, the teen was experiencing a mental health crisis, and his foster father called the police.
Lofton was taken to the Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC).
Lofton stopped breathing and died two days later.
Five months after his death, a community taskforce began working to bring change to the agencies involved in Lofton’s case.
Sedgwick County 911 emergency communications, The Kansas Department for Children and Families Foster Care department (KS DCF), Wichita Police, and the county’s youth corrections all received recommendations from the taskforce.
The taskforce made 58 recommendations.
The public dashboard tracks the progress as reported by the agencies themselves.
It shows 31 are implemented, 22 are in progress, and five are not implemented, although the company said one of those is in progress.
Last year, Sedgwick County’s juvenile services updated its use of force policy and added 24/7 nursing and mental health staff who are trained in trauma.
Security cameras showed what happened in JIAC but did not have audio, that still hasn’t been added.
Sedgwick County Department of Corrections Director Steven Stonehouse said it is taking time to add audio to ensure it is of high enough quality to be useful.
“We are gonna end up having a combination of axon cameras that staff will wear on their uniform and then audio in cameras that are mounted in the building,” said Stonehouse.
It’s also working on the Individual Justice Plan to help support juveniles with mental health issues or a developmental disability.
The taskforce made 14 recommendations to KS DCF. The agency declined an interview with KSN but answered questions via email:
“The task force made several recommendations specific to DCF. Please refer to the attached document which is the most recent update that was provided to the task force in April. Highlights include the expansion of Family First Prevention Services Act programs including the availability of multi-systemic therapy to all Kansas counties, further implementation of the Family Crisis Helpline (offers support to families and individuals experiencing a mental health crisis), and 988. In addition to the updates in the document, DCF is implementing House Bill 2024, also known as the Gail Finney Memorial Foster Care Bill of Rights, which was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Kelly earlier this year and infusing $6 million into the agency’s therapeutic foster home program which will assist in finding appropriate foster placements for youth with high needs. The $6 million was part of the SFY 24 budget passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor.” The department added, “DCF is working very closely with our case management providers and community mental health centers to ensure that youth in care receive both needed mental health screenings and services. We’ve put a renewed emphasis on mental health in our performance improvement plans with our grantees and will include new language in our contracts that ensures continuous improvement.”
KSN News requested an interview with 911 emergency communications and WPD but was referred back to the taskforce’s public dashboard.
The taskforce meets again in four weeks to discuss where things stand on each recommendation.