Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Governor Sebelius agrees to examine disproportionalities in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice systems

On September 18th, members of the Wichita Branch NAACP traveled to Topeka and met with Troy Findley (Gov Sebelius' Chief of Staff), Melissa Gregory (Gov Sebelius' office), Patrick Woods (SRS Dir. of Governmental Affairs), and Danielle Dempsey-Swoopes (African American Affairs Commission Chair). As detailed in an earlier post [10/20/08] we shared our analysis of Child Welfare cases in Sedgwick County, detailed our concerns about the disproportionate number of children removed from their families, and offered our hypothesis. We then asked for the Governor's office to conduct a State-wide analysis of Child in need of Care policies to help affirm our analysis and to help craft a remedy for the statistical disparities we see between Sedgwick County and the other counties around the State in child in need of care cases.

We reported in our Progress Report that the Governor's office had responded favorably to our request. We are now proud to report that Governor Sebelius has announced a new effort, under the direction of her Health and Human Services Subcabinet team, to assure racial and ethnic equity is a standard outcome across all Kansas child welfare and juvenile justice programs. In so doing, she has agreed to directly address the issue of disproportionality in the Child Welfare system as we have advocated, and the issue of Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Juvenile Justice system; and effort which has been championed for several years by Representative Melody McCray Miller.

Governor Sebelius issued a press release yesterday which states:

The Governor’s Health and Human Services Subcabinet team will be comprised of representatives from the Departments of Social and Rehabilitation Services; Health and Environment; Aging; Corrections; the Juvenile Justice Authority; Kansas Health Policy Authority; and the Federal Grants Office. The team will partner with agency officials, community leaders, experts and advocates to:

  • Understand the nature and causes of disproportionality in our state;

  • Understand the role poverty plays in contact with the child in need of care and juvenile justice systems in Kansas;

  • Identify jurisdictions that face particularly large issues of racial inequity in child welfare and juvenile justice programs;

  • Identify approaches to address these issues.

  • (Click HERE for a full copy of the Governor's Press Release)

    On behalf of the Wichita Branch NAACP we would like to thank Governor Sebelius and her staff for being responsive to our shared concerns. We look forward to working with you and with Representative Melody Miller in the months ahead, as we look for solutions to these troubling issues.

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