First-Ever Kansas Child Welfare Summit: A United Effort for Long-Term Improvements in Child Welfare

By Trish Svoboda

Over 700 individuals dedicated to improving the child welfare system convened at the first-ever Kansas Child Welfare Summit in Topeka this week. The summit, held on April 15 and 16, served as a way for local leaders, as well as partners in child welfare justice, to unite with the goal of creating long-term enhancements in child welfare.

The organization of the summit was overseen by a three-branch committee chaired by Justice Melissa Standridge of the Kansas Supreme Court.

“I was overwhelmed by the tremendous response to our call to action, and the summit itself exceeded my expectations,” Standridge said. “It provided all of us an opportunity to collaborate, learn, and drive positive change in our child welfare system.”

The summit featured speakers with specialized knowledge, who concentrated on measures that partners in child welfare can adopt to enhance the existing permanency process and strengthen Kansas families, youth, and young adults under state custody. It also included individuals who have firsthand experience with the child welfare system.

Approximately one-third of the attendees were part of teams assembled by the chief judges from the 31 judicial districts of the state. These team members included various roles in the child welfare process, including attorneys, state agencies, professionals contracted by state agencies, elected officials, law enforcement, and volunteers.

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