Sens. Marshall, Moran Announce $3.7 Million Grant for KU Aimed to Transform Foster Care in America

(Washington, D.C. September 30, 2021) – U.S. Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. and Jerry Moran announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the University of Kansas (KU) over $3.7 million to be one of six organizations across the country to transform the state of foster care in America. KU’s innovative approach will establish proactive child and family well-being systems, preventing child maltreatment and unnecessary family separation.

“Family – along with faith, education, and hard work – have always been the values that guide me, and it’s important that we work to preserve the family unit in America,” said Senator Marshall. “The children and families in our Kansas foster care system deserve better, and I am relieved to see that KU has taken the initiative to create this proactive, family-focused program. While sometimes it is in the best interest to remove children from dangerous home environments, the majority of families could provide sufficient care to their children if given the right community-based resources and interventions.”

“Every child deserves the opportunity to be part of a permanent and loving family,” said Senator Moran. “I’m pleased to see KU leading the nation in creating innovative approaches to produce better futures for children in the foster care system. As an appropriator for the Administration for Children and Families, I will continue to work to make certain that Kansas is a priority when these resources are distributed.”


The grant, funded through the Administration of Children and Families, aims to transform the traditional, reactive child welfare system into a comprehensive child and family well-being system. Specifically, the Family Support through Primary Prevention sites builds on a first-of-its-kind partnership launched last year to strengthen families through a seamless continuum of comprehensive prevention services designed to reach families before disruption escalates into a crisis.

The U.S. foster care system is failing children. In December 2019, the Kansas City Star published a six-part series on how the foster-care system was sending more kids to prison than college. The dysfunctional system led foster children to move on average dozens of times – and a few as many as 100 times – throughout childhood, leading to mental health issues including PTSD. The report also uncovered how more funding is spent on investigating families than trying to keep them together. Rates nationwide have increased – some due to the growing opioid epidemic – worsening already broken system. According to reports from the Kansas Department for Children and Families, the number of Kansas children entering the foster care system has increased in recent years, with some areas worse than others. In fact, Southeast Kansas has disproportionate levels of out-of-home foster care placements for children as compared to the state population.

KU’s School of Social Welfare will focus efforts on transforming Southeast Kansas. Despite existing challenges, the region has a network of programs poised to thrive with additional support and strong partnerships. The collaboration will include the Center for Public Partnerships and Research, the Kansas Department for Children and Families, and three community-based agencies. Counties they will cover include Allen, Bourbon, Cherokee, Crawford, Labette, Montgomery, Neosho, and Wilson. In total, KU was awarded $3,747,804. The project will run for five years, ending September 2026. 

Federal funding for this award was made possible by the bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.