TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas became the 14th state to create an independent advocate to oversee child welfare services Monday. Executive Order 21-28 establishes the Division of The Child Advocate.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly says the division will oversee organizations that provide foster care.

The order will permit the governor to appoint the individual. However, neither the governor nor the legislature can fire the advocate, keeping the position from becoming political.

Kelly called the creation of the advocate a “true victory for the kids and Kansas families.”

She said her office took a deep dive into the foster care system in Kansas and what they found was “shameful.” The governor said children would get stuck in the system due to a lack of resources.

The Division of the Child Advocate will act as a centralized entity to:

  • Protect Kansas children and families from harm by providing an independent oversight and accountability system for public and private entities involved in child welfare
  • Compile and receive complaints made on behalf of children within the child welfare system
  • Review the practices of agents in the child welfare system
  • Provide nonpartisan, independent reports detailing complaints and recommendations to the governor, legislature, and judicial branches each year
  • Improve coordination between state agencies, contractors, and partners in the child welfare space to ensure all Kansas children and families receive quality services
  • Educate children and families of their rights and entitlements under state and federal law and serve as a resource for families attempting to navigate the child welfare system

Kelly also signed Executive Order 21-27, which establishes the Office of Public Advocates. The office will include the Child Advocate, the KanCare Ombudsman, and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.