Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The child in "the system"

Kansas is proud to be a family-oriented state. Good schools and family support are midwestern qualities to be envied. Despite this, it is an unfortunate reality that a few Kansas children are sometimes put in situations that may remove them from one or both parents and/or the homes to which they are acquainted. Other times, parents are separating and there is a dispute over custody or support. Kansas government has several services that provide quick relief and find a solution which best keeps the family intact or, if needed, provide a new, stable home for the child.

The Kansas Judicial Branch has provided the 2010 Kansas Child Support Guidelines:
http://www.kscourts.org/Rules-procedures-forms/Child-Support-Guidelines/2010-Guidelines-Final.pdf

Kansas courts are instructed by KSA 5-503(f) to provide mediation to come to a quick solution for the child. Mediation is a way for people in disagreement to discuss the problems involved with the help of a third party who will not take sides :
http://www.kscourts.org/programs/parenting-planning/mediation.asp

In accordance to KSA 38-1552a, Kansas courts have developed the Parent Ally Program:
http://www.kscourts.org/programs/parenting-planning/parent-ally-orientation.asp

Kansas has created the Office of Child Support Services (CSE) which helps children by enforcing parental responsibility to pay financial support. All Kansas families have access to CSE services, which include assistance with locating non-custodial parents, confirming paternity, establishing and enforcing child support and medical support orders, and collecting and distributing payments:
http://www.usa800.com/rback/kschild/kschild.asp

For convenience, the state has set up the Child Support Payment Center:
http://www.kspaycenter.com/

Sometimes child support payments are delayed by one parent or the other for various reasons. The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) can help payments get back on track:
http://www.srskansas.org/cse/cse.htm

There are also Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs available. The CASA program assist in securing permanency for children who are in the child welfare system because of alleged or confirmed abuse and/or neglect. The presiding judge in such a case may appoint a CASA volunteer who is responsible for advocating the best interests of the child and assisting the child in obtaining a permanent, safe, and homelike placement. Also, CASA volunteers can be appointed to work with children in the juvenile justice system and children involved in domestic relations cases. A list of CASA programs can be found at:
http://www.kscourts.org/programs/CASAtable.pdf

SRS has several services to assist and preserve a family before a situation requires a child be removed from the home:
http://www.srskansas.org/CFS/programservices.htm#Services%20to%20Preserve%20Families

When a report of abuse or neglect is made to SRS, an Initial Assessment is completed to determine if SRS should become involved. If the report meets the criteria for SRS involvement, it is investigated by a social worker or special investigator. Learn more about the investigative process at:
http://www.srskansas.org/CFS/programservices.htm#Child%20Protective%20Services

***If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected in Kansas, please contact the Kansas Protection Report Center (PRC) at 1-800-922-5330 OR call your local law enforcement.

If a situation requires it, a child is placed in the care of SRS and a suitable foster family is found. Years ago foster care and adoption was privatized and now private agencies across the state partner with SRS to provide stable homes for children. Some of Kansas' foster care partners can be found at:
http://www.childally.org/fostercare/fosteragencies.html

One in four children in the care of SRS live with relatives. Learn more about the Relatives as Caregivers program at:
http://www.srskansas.org/CFS/RelativesasCaregivers.pdf

Learn more about the Grandparents as Caregivers program at:
http://www.srskansas.org/ISD/ees/grandparents_caregivers.htm

If you are looking to become a permanent solution for a child through adoption you can learn more about adoption assistance at:
http://www.srskansas.org/CFS/AdoptionAssistanceBrochure.pdf

Article contact: Kim Harp