Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Senate Committee Considers Limiting Number of Children in Foster Homes

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kansas Senate Committee Considers Limiting Number of Children in Foster Homes

Article excerpt

A Kansas Senate committee considered reforms to the state's foster care system Thursday, including strict limits on the number of children in a foster home.

Senate Bill 315, introduced by Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D- Wichita, would limit the number of foster children in a home to four and limit the total number of children -- foster and biological -- in a foster home to six.

"I commend those who open up their homes to those children. However, sometimes in trying to do the right thing, we have unintended consequences," Faust-Goudeau told the Senate Judiciary Commitee.

The bill is a response to the case of Topeka City Councilman Jonathan Schumm. Schumm and his wife face charges of aggravated battery and endangering a child. The Schumms had 12 foster children and four biological children when they were charged and have since had a fifth biological child.

Faust-Goudeau didn't refer to the Schumm case by name, instead calling it "the case we all know about."

The senator said she had heard concerns from several constituents on the matter, including daycare providers who currently must abide by the four-child and six-child limits.

"I thought I needed to stand up and say something about this particular issue," she said.

Kasey Rogg, deputy general counsel for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said Faust-Goudeau's limitations on foster homes are already the law. However, enforcement is done at DCF's discretion.

"SB 316 removes the discretion the licensing division has," Rogg said.

Though DCF didn't take a position on the bill, Kathy Armstrong, DCF's assistant director for legal services, said "it represents a very restrictive approach." Armstrong urged senators to allow DCF the authority to handle its matters on a case-by-case basis.

"This bill does not allow for consideration of a home that may have the physical space and a family that may have the resources to care for a larger sibling group," she said.

The only exception in the bill allows for a child to be placed in a foster care home for 30 days in emergency situations. Faust- Goudeau said that provision would allow for siblings to be placed in the same home in excess of the four-child and six-child limits. …

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