Daily Archives: Oct. 12, 2011

Lawmaker says foster care case files may be too open

TOPEKA — Earlier this year, the Department of Social and Rehabilitative Services loosened its records policy to allow parents whose children are now in the foster care system to sign a one-page release form that gives a select House or Senate member access to their family’s case file.

The move gives lawmakers access to records that explain, in detail, the circumstances that led to a child being removed from his or her home. That can include narratives of alleged abuse, medical files, psychiatric evaluations, drug tests, court records, credit history and payment history, among other things.

The policy change, requested by lawmakers, followed years of frustration among elected officials who were trying to get to the bottom of complaints from parents who felt a judge unfairly ruled to have their child removed from their home. Previous rules allowed people to give lawmakers and SRS officials permission to discuss the case, but lawmakers didn’t have access to the actual documents and social workers could decide how much to disclose.

Today, Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said not everyone may be aware of how much information can be disclosed under the new policy. She read portions of the release form out loud to the Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services Oversight. Read More »