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Reintegration of kids in child-in-need-of-care case ‘viable option,’ judge says

Reintegration still is an option in a child-in-need-of-care case The Eagle has been following since February, Sedgwick County District Judge Patrick Walters said Friday.

The case involves four children removed Feb. 7 from the home their mother shared with her then-boyfriend, described as a gang member in court documents. A petition filed by the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office alleged a history of child abuse and domestic violence in the home.

The mother had testified earlier in the case that she allowed her then-boyfriend to discipline her children, even though he had lost custody of his own, because he was “the man of the house.”

The mother and the children’s father appeared in court Friday for a disposition hearing.

The children’s father, from whom the mother is divorced, had earlier opted to not contest the allegation that his children should be deemed in need of care. The mother, however, asked for a trial, which took place in June. Walters ruled then that the state had met its burden of proof that the children, ages 11, 10, 7 and 5, were in need of care.

Assistant District Attorney Tricia Knoll reported to Walters on Friday that the mother had moved back to Wichita from a nearby community and that the three youngest children were no longer living with their maternal grandmother and seemed to be doing better.

Knoll also said the mother’s last two urine analysis tests, on July 22 and 29, had been clean. The mother previously had tested positive for marijuana.

“I hope that mother is turning a corner in the case,” Knoll said.

Knoll expressed concern about drug use by the father’s wife and said she was going into treatment.

Walters set a review hearing for Oct. 10, saying that should give “mom and dad some time to get stable.”

“Reintegration does remain a viable option,” he said.

The Eagle is following this case and others through the court system to examine how the system works and to show the public the extent of child abuse and neglect in the community. It is not identifying the children or their parents to protect their privacy.

In the state’s fiscal year that ended in June, the Kansas Department for Families and Children received 12,989 reports of child abuse and neglect. It assigned 7,438 of those cases for further review by social workers.

Reports of child abuse and neglect have risen by 31 percent in Sedgwick County since fiscal year 2009.

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