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On January 1, 2017, the KHI News Service became part of KCUR public radio’s new initiative, the Kansas News Service. The Kansas News Service will continue to cover health policy news and broaden its scope to include education and politics. All stories produced by the former KHI News Service are archived here. Stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to

Legislative committee rejects request to audit Kansas foster care system

By Stephen Koranda | July 29, 2015

A legislative committee has rejected a request to audit the Kansas foster care system.

Photo by Stephen Koranda Rep. John Barker, left, a Republican from Abilene, talks with Rep. Jim Ward, a Democrat from Wichita, before the Legislative Post Audit Committee meeting Wednesday in Topeka.

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Two Democrats proposed the audit Wednesday, but the Legislative Post Audit Committee rejected the request on a 4-5 vote with Republican committee members voting “no.”

Rep. Jim Ward, a Democrat from Wichita, said he’s been hearing more reports of problems with the system recently. In recent months, the number of children in the state’s foster care system has climbed to record levels.

“Anecdotally, I’m hearing that kids are falling through the cracks, and the procedures aren’t being followed,” Ward said. “While we don’t make laws on anecdotes, let’s get some data and find out.” 

The Democrats referenced two high-profile cases of children dying in Kansas foster care in recent years.

Rep. Peggy Mast, a Republican from Emporia and a former foster parent, said the system is complex and an audit won’t fix the issues.

“I’m going to oppose this simply because I think that it will be a lesson in futility,” Mast said.

Sen. Julia Lynn, a Republican from Olathe, also opposed the audit because there is another panel of lawmakers that will be studying the issue later this year.