When children need foster care due to abuse, neglect or other family challenges, a relative caregiver or caring foster family provides them a safe home and a place to heal. But in Kansas and other states, children sometimes need a place to stay short-term while they wait for a family match. To help provide safe options for children and restore beds that have been lost across the state, behavioral healthcare and child welfare leader KVC Health Systems is opening several new emergency shelters. The spaces are located in three different areas of the state in order to keep children close to their home communities and thus speed up the process of a safe family reunification or adoption. It anticipates that the shelters will not be needed forever and can then transition to other uses as the number of children needing out-of-home care decreases.
Children Need Families
One core value that guides the KVC team is, “Children grow best in families.” This concept is based on the research-based and common sense idea that children do better when they grow up in family-like settings, not in group homes or other residential settings. Families not only model healthy adult behaviors that children need to learn; they also help children understand that they are loved, giving them a foundation for lifelong health and wellness. KVC is so committed to the importance of family that it provides training to agencies around the world on how it helped significantly increase the use of family-based care in Kansas and thus reduced congregate care of children in foster care from 30% to just 4%.
But in the majority of states, the number of children in foster care is on the rise due to a range of environmental factors including abuse, neglect and the opioid epidemic. In Kansas, the number of children needing foster care is up at the same time that capacity has been reduced. In recent years, many children’s beds in shelters, youth residential centers and psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTFs) across the state have closed. Care provided by relatives or other people familiar to the child is the preferred type of out-of-home care and in some regions of the state, KVC is able to ensure that 47% of children remain with relatives, which is much higher than the national average of 30%. The second preferred type of care is foster family care and the state has approximately 2,700 caring foster families. However, there is an urgent a need for short-term emergency shelter space so children have a safe, comfortable, trauma-informed place to stay while waiting to be placed with a relative or foster family.
The short-term emergency shelters will be operated by KVC Hospitals, a private, nonprofit organization known for providing high-quality psychiatric hospitals and residential treatment. While youth will not need that level of treatment, they will have the same quality of compassionate staff and trauma-informed care.
Kansas City, Kansas
- Existing Services: KVC Prairie Ridge, located at 4300 Brenner Dr., is a children’s psychiatric hospital with acute and PRTF beds. Learn more at kvchospitals.org/prairieridge. KVC Kansas also provides a full array of services including family preservation (prevention), family reunification services, foster care, adoption, in-home therapy, and aftercare. Learn more at www.kvckansas.org.
- Planned: A new emergency children’s shelter with up to 20 beds for youth needing shoter-term out-of-home care. Location TBD. Target open date is January 2018.
- Existing Services: KVC Wheatland, located at 205 E. 7th Street, is a children’s psychiatric hospital with acute and PRTF beds. Learn more at kvchospitals.org/wheatland.
- Planned: KVC recently opened a new emergency shelter with 20 beds for youth needing short-term out-of-home care. Thank you Dane G. Hansen Foundation for helping us make this shelter possible for the children of Hays!
- Planned: KVC is investigating opportunities to open an emergency shelter and other treatment options for children in the Wichita area.
KVC Kansas continues to work with its partners throughout the state to create healthy childhoods and healthy communities. Individuals and organizations of all kinds are needed to help strengthen families by providing foster family care to children in need, donating or volunteering. Learn more at www.kvckansas.org.
About KVC Health Systems, Inc.
KVC Health Systems, headquartered in the greater Kansas City area, is a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that enriches and enhances the lives of over 60,000 children and families each year by providing medical and behavioral healthcare, social services, and education. KVC’s diverse continuum of services includes in-home family support, behavioral healthcare, foster care, adoption, substance abuse treatment, and children’s psychiatric hospitals. KVC cares for more than half of all children and families served by the Kansas child welfare system and thousands more children and families in four other states. KVC is accredited by The Joint Commission, considered the gold standard in healthcare, and shares best practices with agencies around the world. Learn more at www.kvc.org.
Jenny Kutz, Director of Communications
KVC Health Systems
(913) 322-4994 or firstname.lastname@example.org