Kansas’ foster care system will pay $1.25 million to settle a lawsuit alleging a child sleeping in a contractor’s office was sexually assaulted in 2018.
In 2018, a then 13-year-old girl, referred to as DD in court documents, was sleeping in the offices of KVC Kansas when she was sexually assaulted by an 18-year-old man, referred to as MH in court documents.
KVC is a private, nonprofit child welfare organization under contract with the Kansas Department of Children and Families.
The lawsuit against KVC and DCF was filed in 2019 in Wyandotte County District Court.
DD was assaulted after being left unattended due to understaffing, court documents show. At the time of the assault, she had been staying at a KVC office for about a month, after being kicked out of her home over unsubstantiated allegations of abuse.
DD testified that there were sometimes 15 to 20 children living in the agency’s offices, according to court documents. KVC’s Olathe offices, where DD resided, are not approved placement centers.
MH’s family warned KVC not to put him with other children because he had a history of sexual assault. Court documents indicate that he was previously in prison for deviant sexual behavior.
“(These children) don’t deserve to be housed in offices, to sleep under tables – and if they have to, for whatever reason, they deserve reasonable supervision and not to be left alone with sexual deviants. “, Mark Schloegel, an attorney at the Popham law firm who represented DD, told The Star.
KVC and DCF accused each other in litigation of breaking regulations, Schloegel said.
“DCF has legal custody of all children, including DD, who are placed in the foster care system, and is ultimately responsible for the safety, permanency and well-being of the children through the work of their KVC contractor,” Schloegel said in court documents.
Shloegel said DCF and KVC failed in their legal responsibility to care for DD
“We are not shy about taking responsibility for this matter,” Gina Meier-Hummel, then DCF secretary, told a Kansas legislature task force in September 2018, according to court documents.
Schloegel said he hopes the case could be a wake-up call for Kansas’ foster care system.
“This girl deserves her story to be told,” Schloegel said. “And those kids in the Kansas foster care system deserve better.”