WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – “The time to act is now. I truly believe this will save lives,” said Kansas Representative Michael Capps.
Capps, a Republican from Wichita, says the Department for Children and Families should share files with police investigators.
Capps points to the recent several recent child death cases, including Zayden Jaynesahkluah, the 2-year-old boy who died of ingesting methadone. Welfare case workers tried to get Jaynesahkluah’s mother, Kimberly Compass, family services. She refused services at first.
Compass later accepted family services from DCF two weeks before her son died. There were also numerous contacts, and attempted contacts, between DCF services and family members. Compass now stands accused of murder.
Capps believes police investigators should have access to some DCF files so trained officers can get involved earlier in cases, like that of Jaynesahkluah.
KSN reached out to the Department for Children and Families and a spokesperson told us the agency is already working on extending its outreach to law officers.
DCF Spokesperson Mike Deines sent a response:
“For the past several months, the Department for Children and Families explored new ways to expand our partnership with law enforcement in the Wichita area. In July, DCF signed new inter-agency agreements with both the Sedgwick County Sheriff and Wichita Police Department to add new community support positions and increase data sharing with the goal of protecting children and strengthening families.
At the same time, DCF is taking strong steps to ensure that sensitive and confidential data is protected in order to satisfy both federal and state law. This is still very new and there are still many details to work out before these initiatives are launched. DCF looks forward to being able to share more fully about this exciting new initiative in Wichita and looks forward to working hand in hand with law enforcement to keep children and families safe.”
Representative Capps says his legislation will take a close look at privacy issues related to his bill. He says the time to act is now.
“Investigators throughout our state have access to the Kansas Criminal Justice Information System, KCJIS, which has some of the most sensitive files with regard to ongoing investigations,” said Representative Capps. “We already trust these investigators with criminal investigations that may or may not even become a chargeable offense. There’s no reason they can not have access to the same information, especially when you’re talking about saving children’s lives.”
Representative Capps is also talking to other lawmakers to build a coalition.
KSN reached out to the Wichita Police Department. A spokesperson said they are studying the proposals.