Governor Laura Kelly joined Wichita area legislators and community members to ceremonially sign House Bill 2024, a child welfare bill that outlines the rights of foster youth, foster parents, and family caregivers. The bill is named in honor of Representative Gail Finney, who represented the 84th state house district from 2009 until her death in August 2022.
“Representative Gail Finney was a warrior for children, and I can think of no better way to pay tribute to her incredible legacy than with this bill, which she worked so tirelessly to bring to my desk,” Governor Kelly said. “This law will empower children and families in the foster care system by providing some much-needed clarity and by making them explicitly aware of what information, services, and supports they are entitled to within the system.”
As of February 2023, there are more than 6,000 children in the foster care system across Kansas. Under HB 2024, the Department of Children and Families is required to give written and verbal notification of rights outlined in the bill of rights to foster youth, foster parents, and kinship caregivers.
“I was honored to make the recommendation for Representative Gail Finney’s bill in our Joint Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight during an interim last year, and I’m proud to stand with Governor Kelly today as she signs it into law,” said Senator Faust-Goudeau. “This legislation strengthens our foster care system and will result in stronger families and safer, healthier children. This is what Representative Finney would have wanted.”
“I can’t put into words how honored I am to be a part of delivering this entire process. Not just an important piece of legislation but such a wonderful tribute to someone who worked to make the best of the sunset of her own life,” said Representative Ford Carr. “Our entire legislature pulled together, regardless of party lines, and made her dreams a reality for so many Kansas foster children and families. There is much more work to be done. With Gail watching over my shoulders and guiding my steps, together we will continue working to make things better for the future of foster children of Kansas.”
HB 2024 also strengthens and sustains the Child Abuse Referral Evaluation (CARE) network, an existing program that ensures every case of child maltreatment is thoroughly investigated. The bill also allows for the use of infant safety devices in authorized facilities.