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Aug. 7, 2012
TOPEKA The Kansas Department for Children and Families is seeking bids from contractors interested in providing the state foster care and family preservation services.
The department issued formal requests for proposals late last month. The deadline for responses is Sept. 20.
The state currently contracts for the services in five regions. The RFPs include consolidation that would reduce the five contractual regions to four.
“That’s probably the biggest change,” said Shelley Duncan, executive director at United Methodist Youthville, which has had the foster care contract for Sedgwick County since 1996.
The proposal calls for aligning the contractual regions with the catchment areas of the department’s regional offices, which were aligned with the state’s Congressional districts last year. At least 30 of the state’s 105 counties would be in a different administrative region.
“It’s a change,” Duncan said, “but it makes sense. We’ve sort of been expecting it. I doubt that any of us (contractors) are surprised.”
Youthville’s one-county region will be expanded to also include Barber, Butler, Cowley, Elk, Greenwood, Harper, Kingman, and Pratt counties.
The plan also would expand the western Kansas region to include 69 counties. The region currently has 57 counties.
“They’re adding 17 counties to our region and taking away five counties that are south and west of Wichita,” said Cheryl Rathbun, vice president for clinical services at St. Francis Community Services, which has the foster care contract for western Kansas. “We’re sad to lose Wellington (Cowley County) because we have some wonderful relationships there. But we’re excited by the prospects of taking on the additional counties and being in line with the DCF regional offices. It’ll make things simpler.”
The 21 counties that comprise the current southeast Kansas region will be divided among three different regions.
Kansas privatized most of its foster care system in 1996 after failing several court-ordered reviews. It now contracts with four non-profit service providers:
• United Methodist Youthville, Wichita;
• St. Francis Community Services, Salina;
• KVC Behavioral Healthcare, Inc. (formerly known as Kaw Valley Center); Olathe;
• TFI Family Services, Inc. (formerly known as The Farm), Topeka.
Currently, TFI Family Services has the foster care contract in two of the five regions.
St. Francis Community Services also has two of the five regional family preservation contracts. DCCCA, based in Lawrence, also has two.
“The family preservation RFP isn’t jarringly different from what we do now,” said Colleen Pederson, contracts administrator at DCCCA. “The biggest challenge will be the regional reconfiguration, but it’s not insurmountable. We’ve done it before.”
Family preservation refers to services designed to stabilize families thought to be at-risk of a child or children entering the foster care system.
In the fiscal year that began July 1, DCF expects to spend $138.8 million on the foster care services and $10.2 million on family preservation.
Typically, Kansas has about 5,100 children in its foster care system each month with roughly 215 families receiving family preservation services.
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