TOPEKA – In a revelation that shocked lawmakers, the companies running the state’s foster care system said Tuesday that more than 70 foster children are missing in Kansas.
Lawmakers also were furious that Phyllis Gilmore, secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, appeared unaware that three sisters have been missing from a northeast Kansas foster home since Aug. 26.
Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, told a child welfare task force meeting that when she asked DCF about the missing children on Tuesday, the agency knew nothing.
“I am flabbergasted,” Kelly said afterward. “I used to work in this world years and years ago and I understand that where you have teenagers, you will have runners, and they will go and they will do this kind of stuff.
“But the fact that the person in charge of the wards of the state has no idea that these kids are missing from her custody is just astounding to me.”
After the meeting, Gilmore said she could not discuss the three missing sisters who police think fled their foster home in Tonganoxie. Emily, 15, Aimee, 14, and Christin Utter, 12, have been missing for 45 days.
The Star reported on their case earlier Tuesday, prompting Kelly to question Gilmore and others.
“You heard everyone expressing that it is extremely concerning and worrisome, especially when many of them are teenage girls in the light of the issues surrounding human trafficking,” Gilmore said.
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