Contact:
Jane Moore
jane@kansasdems.org

October 11, 2021

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: GOVERNOR LAURA KELLY ESTABLISHES DIVISION OF CHILD ADVOCATE, PROTECTS KANSAS CHILDREN FROM HARM

Topeka, KS – After years of legislative inaction, last week Governor Laura Kelly established the Division of the Child Advocate, an independent office that will address systemic issues in the child welfare system and ensure every Kansas child is protected from harm.

“By establishing an independent oversight office dedicated to protecting Kansas children and families, Governor Kelly accomplished what the Kansas Legislature has failed to do for years,” said KDP Chairwoman Vicki Hiatt. “The DCA is another example of Governor Kelly fulfilling her promise to Kansans – despite Republican leadership’s consistent obstructionism.”

In response, Kansans across the state are commending Governor Kelly’s strong leadership. Here’s what they’re saying:

Governor was correct to create a child advocate office. The Kansas Legislature must set it in stone.

The Editorial Advisory Board, The Topeka-Capital Journal, Oct. 8, 2021 

We think it’s a needed office, and this executive order was acceptable in the light of the Legislature not taking action.

For years, the Legislature has known about the problems plaguing the system. They’ve had plenty of opportunities to do something about it. During the last session, bills in the House and Senate stalled after debates over who the advocates’ office should report to…

The governor’s actions seem like a fair approach…

For that reason and others, we hope the Legislature will pass a bill to make this executive order a permanent office that wouldn’t be able to be undone by another executive order.

Kansas’ children are counting on it.

Gov. Kelly revived Office of the Child Advocate plan. Its bill mysteriously didn’t get vote in House.

Jessica Porter, The Topeka-Capital Journal, Oct. 8, 2021

As the days passed and House proceedings were adjourned without HB2345 being called to the floor for a vote, it became apparent that the bill wasn’t going to get its time to shine. The bill died in the 2021 session before even getting over to the Senate for review.

For many, the first question is why did the bill die if Republicans and Democrats worked so hard for years to come up with a bill they could agree on?

Cue Government 101. For a bill to go from its House committee over to the Senate for discussion, the speaker of the House must call the bill. Did he forget? Did he just not agree with his fellow Republican colleagues? The truth is, we may never know why Ron Ryckman didn’t call the bill

What we do know is, Kelly decided to take matters into her own hands. The Division of the Child Advocate is independent from DCF. Kelly deserves recognition for finding a way to deliver a win for child-welfare in Kansas.

Rep. Jarrod Ousley (HD-24)“Everybody is in agreement here that we needed this office. This office is going to be good for the kids. I applaud the governor’s efforts by taking the reins and establishing this office now and not wasting any more time letting it get caught up in politics.”

Linda Bass, President of KVC: “Child welfare is always competing against organizations that can offer to pay more, have better hours and lower stress. We are long overdue with that investment to go back into Kansas child welfare because our staff are working with the most vulnerable population, and we have the best likelihood at improving the outcomes for kids and families across the board.”

Senator Dinah Sykes (SD-21)“Today’s executive order is a victory for KS kids and families. The Office of Public Advocates and its Division of the Child Advocate will improve services and help families get the support they need, when they need it. Thank you for fighting for our kids, @GovLauraKelly”

Rep. Lindsay Vaughn (HD-22): “Thank you @GovLauraKelly for creating this incredibly important role and to Rep. Jarrod Ousley for fighting to make it possible. Establishing an independent Division of the Child Advocate is crucial for protecting Kansas’ most vulnerable kids”

Rep. Jo Ella Hoye (HD-17): “I’m grateful that @GovLauraKelly took this important action to establish the Division of the Child Advocate. We weren’t able to finalize legislation in the #ksleg – our kids can’t wait any longer. Thanks to the families, advocates, and lawmakers who never gave up.”

Senator Cindy Holscher (SD-08): “Today I’m part of a #ksleg joint committee for child welfare oversight. A number of extremist comm members are angry that @GovLauraKelly issued an EO yesterday which will provide much needed oversight/accountability to the foster care system. The #ksleg worked for years to establish something like this, but couldn’t get it done. After years of underfunding by the Brownback admin., our children were left extremely vulnerable. In the past three months, the number of missing foster children has ranged from 60 to 82. This EO will establish an advocate that is transparent as independent. THIS EO WILL SAVE CHILDREN’S LIVES. Our kids have already waited far too long for the #ksleg to take appropriate action. This committee should be celebrating what has happened vs. extremists wallowing in bitterness/anger. From their statements, it felt extremely petty. They said things like “we were working on this, it’s a slap in the face to have her do this, etc.” The leg has had YEARS to put something together to address the situation & hasn’t gotten it done. Kids shouldn’t have to wait.”

Kansas Appleseed: “Children and families in the foster care system now have the independent oversight they deserve. We applaud Governor Kelly’s efforts to create the Division of the Child Advocate.”

Heather Ousley: “So thankful to have Gov. Kelly issue an executive order today creating the Office of the Child Advocate, that Jarrod has worked for years to bring to fruition.”

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