DCF resumes placement with foster care subcontractor

08/08/2014 11:15 AM

08/13/2014 12:34 PM

After suspending foster care placements with a subcontractor that sponsored a Wichita foster home where a 10-month-old girl died after being left in a hot car, the state has allowed placements to resume, a state agency said Friday.

“I felt it was in the best interest of children to suspend placements until all homes could be inspected. Our investigation into the death is ongoing, but placements are once again permitted,” Phyllis Gilmore, secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said Friday in a statement.

“While we know this affected our valued foster families, it was never intended to be an insult to foster parents who have opened their homes to care for children in need. It was simply a safety precaution,” Gilmore said in the statement.

The baby died July 24. The next day, DCF ordered contractors to assess the safety of all children in TFI-sponsored homes, the release said. The directive was to inspect within 72 hours homes where children were under 7 and within a week where foster children were older than 7, the release said.

During the inspections, social workers with the two foster care contractors, Saint Francis and KVC, “addressed with the foster parents any safety concerns and reiterated the importance of removing children from vehicles and refraining from being impaired while serving as a foster parent,” Gilmore said in the statement.

“We were pleased to learn that no major issues were discovered. It appears the recent tragedy is a rare exception to an otherwise strong record of foster care child safety in Kansas.”

Prosecutors have charged one of the 10-month-old’s foster parents, Seth Jackson, with first-degree murder in her death; the charge involves alleged recklessness rather than premeditation.

Authorities have alleged that Jackson left the girl in a car after bringing her home from a baby sitter and that he went inside his house on South Topeka and smoked marijuana with the other foster parent while she remained in the closed-up car outside.

Jackson realized he had left the girl in the car when he saw a baby crying on TV. He then rushed out to the car with the other foster parent, but the baby was already dead, authorities have said.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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