Skip to comments.Teen dies in Missouri foster home
Posted on 09/10/2003 1:08:25 PM PDT by ladysusan
Teen dies in Missouri foster home Authorities investigate Kansan's suicide, out-of-state placement
By Dave Ranney, Journal-World
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
State officials are investigating reports that a 14-year-old Kansas boy in foster care committed suicide last week.
The boy, who was living in a group home in Kansas City, Mo., had been in foster care about 10 months.
"Police are investigating, and we are cooperating with that investigation," said Sandra Hazlett, director of child and family services at Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.
The boy, whose mother lives in Ellsworth, had been placed in the out-of-state group home by Kansas Children's Service League, the nonprofit agency that has the SRS contract for foster care services in north-central Kansas.
"I can't say anything because of confidentiality," KCSL spokeswoman Tina Long said.
Attempts to reach the boy's mother Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Friends and acquaintances of the mother, who asked to remain unnamed, said the boy and two siblings were put in foster care last year after the mother left them with her ex-husband when she moved to Ellsworth to start a new job.
The friend said the mother was told by a KCSL social worker that her youngest son was moved to the group home after being sexually abused in one foster home and physically threatened in a second home. It's unclear why the boy was in the Missouri group home and why, if he was suicidal, he wasn't under close supervision.
SRS Foster Care
Reportedly, the boy hanged himself Friday evening. His mother was notified Saturday.
Rep. Joshua Svaty, an Ellsworth Democrat, said SRS owed the mother an explanation.
"I talked to her Saturday," he said. "She has questions about what happened, and I think she's owed an explanation."
Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita and chairwoman of the interim Joint Committee on Children's Issues, said she wanted to know why the boy was in Missouri and why he wasn't adequately supervised.
"I've called SRS and this is being investigated," Landwehr said.
The boy's death is likely to renew interest in a bill introduced this year that would have opened the records of children who die while in the state's foster care or adoption systems.
The bill, introduced by Sen. David Adkins, a Leawood Republican, passed both the Senate and House but stalled in conference committee.
"Unfortunately, every tragedy such as this creates an additional impetus for disclosure," Adkins said.
Adkins introduced the bill -- Senate Bill 67 -- after the death of 9-year-old Brian Edgar, a former foster child.
According to prosecutors, Edgar suffocated after he was bound and gagged by his adoptive parents.
Neil and Christy Edgar are charged with first-degree murder, and jury selection in their case is to begin Monday in Johnson County.
Records surrounding the decision-making processes for placing Brian Edgar in the couple's home remain sealed.
It's unclear how many children die while in state custody.
"I've asked SRS for those numbers, but I couldn't get a very good handle on them," said Gary Brunk, executive director at Kansas Action for Children. "My sense is that they are few in number and even lower than in most other states, but with these things it's imperative that we -- all of us -- get to the bottom of what happened, why it happened and what we can do to prevent it."
Brunk added, "Until the files are open, I don't think we can say we're doing that."
SRS spokeswoman Stacey Herman said the numbers would be available today.
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