DCF’s recruitment problem
The Kansas Department for Children and Families’ assessment of the problem is on target: the agency is woefully understaffed and underfunded. However, the idea of hiring unlicensed individuals to do the work of protecting our state’s most vulnerable is akin to affixing a band-aid over a gaping head wound.
Moreover, agency officials’ rationalization for their proposal is that the state is not producing licensed social workers at the rate needed to support the work of child welfare. This is simply untrue. Social workers are graduated and licensed at an increased rate in comparison with other mental health professionals, including psychologists and counselors.
What DCF has on its hands is a recruitment problem. From my experience as a social-work student, the prevailing sentiment among burgeoning social workers is that DCF is just not an inspiring place to work. Stagnant wages, hefty caseloads and minimal prospects for career advancement are real barriers that are better solved through investment in licensed professionals as opposed to being left to the underqualified.
Social work will always be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be disparaging. Believe us when we say, this is the job we signed up for. We just need the tools to do it.
Colyn Jones, Wichita
I recently participated in a public forum on how to salvage Kansas’ long-foundering foster care system. After some informative presentations, we were divided into small discussion groups.
One of the strategies we were asked to critique called for restoring the Brownback administration’s cuts in public assistance. It seems that a Kansas-specific study has shown a direct correlation between the increasing numbers of kids in foster care and low-income families losing access to public assistance. Made sense to me.
But during my group’s discussion, a Kansas Department for Children and Families worker said restoring the cuts would do more harm than good because it would only perpetuate the culture of dependence. At some point, she said, destitute families are going to have to learn to stand on their own.
Since the forum, several legislators have complimented DCF Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel for her efforts to reform the troubled agency. Indeed, Meier-Hummel is a good, kind, caring person, but, as yet, she hasn’t had much success in changing the department’s punitive culture.
Meanwhile, the latest available data show that on March 31, Kansas had 7,540 kids in foster care. That’s the most in state history.
Dave Ranney, Lawrence
Inform your fellow drivers
What’s with the declining use of turn signals in Wichita? Signaling is the law, it promotes safety, it alerts others as to what you intend to do and it’s polite.
Perhaps Wichita police and the Sheriff’s department need to focus on the failure to use turn signals to bring this to the attention of the public and possibly reduce the number of accidents.
At the very least, such a focus could grow the city and county budgets.
Richard Armstrong, Wichita
No longer a welcoming country
It is outrageous that a country built on and improved by immigrants is now taking a zero-tolerance policy on “illegal migrants;” ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); beginning the removal process of many with Temporary Protective Status; and severely limiting the number of refugees to half of what the United States had planned.
We are now charging parents, who want to have their children join them, with smuggling a child. All this comes at a profit for private detention centers whose stock immediately rose after the president’s election.
Of course, many U.S. citizens, spouses, neighbors, church members, schools and employers are impacted by these draconian policies. How do these acts square with Matthew 25:35: “I was a stranger and you invited me in?”
Forrest Ehmke, Wichita
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