Today, Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order 21-28 to establish the Division of the Child Advocate – an independent accountability structure to protect Kansas children and families within the child welfare system.

“The establishment of a Child Advocate is a commonsense win for Kansas kids and families,” Governor Kelly said. “For years, our state’s essential family services were neglected and underfunded – leaving our kids and families more vulnerable than ever before. Fixing those systemic problems has been a top priority for my administration, and the Division of the Child Advocate is a significant step forward to ensure every Kansas child is protected from harm.”

The Division of the Child Advocate will act as a centralized entity to:

  • Protect Kansas children and families from harm by providing an independent oversight and accountability system for public and private entities involved in child welfare.
  • Compile and receive complaints made on behalf of children within the child welfare system.
  • Review the practices of agents in the child welfare system.
  • Provide nonpartisan, independent reports to the Governor, Legislature, and Judicial Branches each year. These reports will detail the complaints received by the office and provide recommendations to improve services and systems.
  • Improve coordination between state agencies, contractors, and partners in the child welfare space to ensure all Kansas children and families receive quality services.
  • Educate children and families of their rights and entitlements under state and federal law and serve as a resource for families attempting to navigate the child welfare system.

E.O. 21-28 also creates protections for individuals who make complaints to the Child Advocate to empower state employees to work with the Division and report wrongdoing.

“The Child Advocate will strengthen existing oversight in the child welfare system and provide more accountability for Kansans that receive child welfare related services,” DCF Secretary Laura Howard said. “It is essential that our most vulnerable citizens have an independent advocate they can go to for recourse in the event they feel services were administered incorrectly or inappropriately.”

In addition, the Governor signed Executive Order 21-27, which establishes the Office of Public Advocates (OPA). The OPA will consist of the Division of the Child Advocate, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, and the KanCare Ombudsman.

To view E.O. 21-27 – please click here.

To view an unsigned copy of E.O. 21-28 – which establishes the Division of the Child Advocate – please click here.

A signed version will be posted to the Governor’s website shortly.