Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Lawmakers Reject Request to Audit DCF

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Lawmakers Reject Request to Audit DCF

Article excerpt

Lawmakers rejected an effort Tuesday to audit the Department for Children and Families over possible discrimination against same-sex couples, ending a lengthy battle over the proposed inquiry.

The Legislative Post Audit Committee, in a 5-4 vote along party lines, declined to approve an audit request sought by Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita. Ward initially sought the investigation after allegations last fall that the agency had discriminated against gay and lesbian foster parents.

The panel's decision comes after supporters of an audit amassed information they say points to discrimination by the agency.

"It's unconscionable for this group to ignore the evidence presented," Ward said. "We had a judicial finding that DCF engaged in practices she described as a witch hunt against same-sex couples."

"We had 17 lawyers involved in the Child In Need of Care Process in Johnson County sign a letter raising questions, and three social workers, in addition to the six or seven anecdotal cases that were presented through media of situations that didn't make sense."

Attention on DCF intensified after The Topeka Capital-Journal and other news outlets reported a 2013 court ruling from Johnson County District Judge Kathleen Sloan found the agency had gone to extraordinary measures to create a case against a lesbian woman who wanted to adopt the foster child she had cared for since birth.

A number of same-sex couples also shared allegations of discriminatory treatment. In December, Ward produced a letter signed by 17 attorneys saying the "specter of alleged wrongdoing" hung over DCF.

Former Topeka Councilman Jonathan Schumm's arrest last year exposed an episode in which the Schumms were involved in a dispute with a Wichita lesbian couple over the adoption of a child. …

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