TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — Figures from the Kansas Department of Children and Families show a decline in children placed in foster care in Kansas.

Figures from the department show fewer than 3,000 children entered the system during the 2023 fiscal year, which is July of 2022 to June of this year.

Courtesy State of Kansas

DCF’s data shows that since 2019, there has been a 28% drop in youth entering foster care. The Kansas foster care system saw a sharp decline from 2007 to 2009 but a steady increase between 2011 and 2018.

“Since I became governor, DCF has been laser-focused on repairing our state’s child welfare system and keeping families together,” said Kansas Governor Laura Kelly in a news release. “This milestone shows the progress we’ve made, but it’s clear that there is still much more work to do. That is why I will continue to work with the legislature to invest in providing greater health, educational, and housing resources for families in need.”

In the release, the Kelly Administration creates several programs that were created with helping to decrease the number of children entering foster care:

Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) — Kansas was one of the first states in the nation to adopt the FFPSA. The program connects families with evidence-based community programs that include mental health and substance use services, which has seen an 89% success rate in keeping families together and avoiding foster care placement.

Team Decision Making — Part of DCF’s Kansas Practice Model, Team Decision Making allows child welfare practitioners to use their skills to engage with families, assisting with them in obtaining needed services to support safety and well-being, preventing the need to remove a child from a home.

Expanded mental health services — DCF worked with Carelon to establish the Family Crisis Response Helpline. The helpline is a centralized behavioral health crisis helpline that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides screening and stabilization services.

Thriving Families, Safer Children — The program works to assist families before there is a need for DCF services. In January, DCF awarded $1.7 million in grants to create 10 new Family Resource Centers across the state. The centers will act as hubs to connect families with programs and services like job skill training, early childhood development programs, and nutrition services.

“As an agency, we know how important it is that we narrow the front door to the child welfare system,” says DCF Secretary Laura Howard. “We will continue to seek and develop groundbreaking programs that connect Kansas families with needed resources and services.”