Governor Laura Kelly Enacts SOUL, a Fourth Pathway to Legal Permanency

By Trish Svoboda

Today, April 15, Governor Laura Kelly enacted House Bill 2536, introducing the Support, Opportunity, Unity, and Legal (SOUL) family legal permanency alternative. This provides a fourth way for foster children aged 16 and above to achieve legal permanency through a custodian of their preference.

Before, children under the care of the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF) had three options for achieving permanency: adoption, reintegration, and custodianship. Now, these children are empowered to select a trusted individual to guide them into adulthood as their fourth option for permanency.

“The SOUL Family permanency option means that young people who are aging out of foster care will be empowered to select the circle of caring adults who will help them as they move into adulthood,” said Kansas Department of Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard. “It is a culmination of more than two years of collaborative efforts that placed those with lived experiences at the center of the discussion in their efforts to ensure that youth coming after them had options beyond permanent custodian or another planned permanent living arrangement.”

Sign up for the KCLY Digital Newspaper, The Regional