In Need of Care

Father doesn’t show up for hearing in child-in-need-of-care case

A Wichita father whose four children are in state custody due to allegations of neglect left the juvenile courthouse Thursday before a hearing in the case.

His lawyer offered no explanation and said she had not met with her client.

The mother appeared before Sedgwick County District Court Judge Faith Maughan and waived her right to an evidentiary hearing. Maughan concluded the four children were children in need of care.

Police removed the children during a welfare check in July, finding the home without utilities and in a filthy condition. The oldest child, who is 12, told social workers that she and her siblings had not taken a bath or brushed their teeth in a month and that the family had been living without electricity or water.

A petition filed on behalf of the children July 30 alleged they were covered in bug bites, some scabbed over and some fresh. The petition also alleged that the youngest child, a 7-month-old, had not been to the doctor since she was born, and that the youngest son in the family, who is autistic and does not speak, had not received services.

Prosecutor Sandra Lessor on Thursday morning said the family had been described as working poor, but she said being poor was no excuse for not keeping a house clean, showing up for appointments or getting the children the medical care they needed using resources for people who are low income.

Lessor said the parents still had not submitted to hair follicle tests for drugs. Maughan ordered a hair follicle test for both parents within 48 hours of Thursday’s hearings. If the parents don’t comply, she said she would assume the tests would have been positive for drugs. On Feb. 13, the Kansas Department for Children and Families received a report that the baby had tested positive for cannabis.

After police removed the children, the parents wouldn’t let social workers into their house, owned by a relative, according to the petition. The father told investigators the children were bitten by bugs while playing outside. He denied that the home was unlivable and said there may be fleas in the home because the children brought a toy home from a friend who had pets.

In state fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30, physical and medical neglect of a child made up about 18 percent of all child-in-need-of-care cases assigned for investigation by the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

Since February, The Eagle has been regularly reviewing child-in-need-of-care petitions and is following several cases through the system, including this one. To protect children’s privacy, The Eagle is not identifying them or their parents.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.