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Results of internal review of Kansas agency for children, families won’t be disclosed

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, at 8:35 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, July 13, 2014, at 10:30 p.m.

State officials said Friday they will not publicly disclose results of an internal review of concerns about practices by the Department of Children and Families’ Wichita office.

DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed cited attorney-client privileges as the reason for confidentiality. The effort was more of a review than an investigation and was completed recently, she added.

“Our attorneys reviewed the concerns,” Freed said, “and we were told any notes from that review are confidential.”

The state confirmed earlier this month it was conducting the review after Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, requested an investigation into multiple concerns she had received that Diane Bidwell, Wichita regional director for DCF, was improperly guiding at-risk children to FaithBuilders for adoption or to be placed in foster care.

Faust-Goudeau couldn’t be reached for comment Friday night. Andrea Dixon, head of FaithBuilders, a Wichita nonprofit, said her attorney, Gary Ayers, has the completed review and referred questions to him.

Ayers couldn’t be reached for comment.

Earlier this week, Bidwell voluntarily resigned her position after directing the Wichita office for 2 1/2 years, Freed said. That resignation took effect Friday.

In an e-mail sent to a large number of people in the community involved with children, Bidwell said, “I’ve made a personal decision to step down at this time to focus on other priorities, including my family.”

Earlier this week, Faust-Goudeau said she had been told the review had been completed Oct. 11. An unsigned internal memo was sent Monday to the Wichita office announcing Bidwell’s resignation.

Faust-Goudeau also said earlier this week, “I’m not trying to get anyone to lose a job. I’m trying to work with people. We have parents with some serious concerns.”

Among the issues she listed in making her request for an investigation was Bidwell or someone in her office providing confidential information to FaithBuilders, blocking adoptions by some parents and circumventing the court process on issues involving parental rights.

“There needs to be oversight of this organization and any others involving children,” Faust-Goudeau said.

Ayers said earlier this week that FaithBuilders has helped 350 to 400 children.

Asked if the door was closed on looking at the complaints, Freed said, “I would never say anything is closed. Any time we get additional concerns about children in need of care, we can certainly review that.

“We take all concerns seriously.”

In another development, Mike Myers, Kansas City’s regional director for DCF, will serve as Wichita’s interim director, Freed confirmed.

He will divide his time between the two cities, she said. The Wichita office has about 460 employees.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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