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Southeast Kansas Struggles to Place Kids in Police Protective Cu - KOAM TV 7

Southeast Kansas Struggles to Place Kids in Police Protective Custody

Updated:

  Six thousand children are in foster care in Kansas. A number that has increased from four thousand three years ago.

     Every day new kids need placement but there aren't enough homes.

     It's a problem in southeast Kansas especially when parents are arrested.

"You don't know what kind of condition they’ll come in and most of the time they don't get to take anything with them. They're just taken."

So Marcia Murry, a licensed foster mom  keeps a closet of clothes,shoes and even diapers. The Murry's are a  rare breed  in southeast  Kansas who offer beds to kids in police protective custody.

Marcia says,  “You can get a call in the middle of the night. They may have sat three or four hours while they're trying to find a place for them  and depending on whether I have to work or not, is when I can take them."

  So kids end up sitting in the Baxter Springs police station usually in the office with detectives or in the hall.

Out of eighty-three  juvenile intakes in Cherokee county this past year, forty-one were in police protective custody.

Part time juvenile attorney in Cherokee County Joanna Derfelt says, "We had kids waiting for over  ten hours. I got a phone call they were sleeping on the floor of the police station."

It can take hours to find homes like the Murry’s and that's means police officers aren't able to do their regular jobs.

Derfelt says, "The officer cannot leave until the police protective custody has been placed in a home.  So, we have an officer who should be out patrolling the streets who has to sit with these kids  at the police station."

Galena police got help from Home Depot volunteers remodeling an old jail cell to be more kid friendly for the waiting period  but kids can't spend the night.

Galena police Corporal Blaine Cornelius says, "It’s helpful but it’s actually more short term  than it would be for a long term,  say an overnight placement something like that." 

So some kids have been sent  away as far as a center in Andover, Kansas.

 Marcia adds,   "They may have to go several hours away and come back for court in seventy-two hours. And they may have to be separated from siblings and they're already traumatized.  And it would just be a blessing to have something like the  Childrens' Haven."

Derfelt says she's written several proposals, “We have the skeleton of what we need.  We just need basically the funds and people who would be committed to following through." 

Marcia tries to recruit more foster parents as well and when hearing their arguments, "I tell people it’s not about us, it’a about the kids." 

 Those willing to help with creating a childcare's center or  becoming foster parents can contact Derfelt through the Cherokee county prosecutor’s office at 620-429-3256.

Or contact TFI Family services at 1-800-279-9914

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