Proposed stricter guidelines for KS foster parents met with criticism

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OLATHE, Kan. -- The Kansas Legislature is considering a measure that puts a premium on cleaner living standards for foster parents, but Senate Bill 158 is not without controversy.

Life is a little messy, but Vicki Greer wouldn’t have it any other way. When her youngest daughter moved out, she refused to be an empty nester.

“I said, 'look, when she's gone, what are we going to do? We are going to work and we are going to wait to die. I don't want to wait to die,'” Greer recalled.

But Senate Bill 158 might make it even harder for her to foster. The bill will establish the CARE family program that will eventually replace the current foster care system.

Families have to adhere to strict guidelines to be approved: be a husband and wife team married for at least seven years, no alcohol or tobacco anywhere in the home, and that at least one parent does not work outside of the home.

This news is upsetting to Greer.

“I have enough regulations that I have to do to be a foster parent. I don’t need them coming in and taking more of my rights away,” she said.

She’s already adopted one girl and is in the works of adopting more.

CARE families will also be paid substantially higher than other foster care homes. That’s the only tidbit Greer likes about the bill.

“If they do want to give us more money, my purse is always empty,” she said with a smile.

Several Kansas adoption agencies FOX 4 talked with are opposed to the bill, saying some of their "super star foster families" do not fit those guidelines. They pointed to single parent homes doing a great job with foster kids.

Below are statements from other foster families:

Sarah Bennett says, “This model actually looks very much like my own family, however, my family is far from perfect! I can certainly say, no more perfect than the many single, under age 30, lesbian foster parents I know. What does this say to our foster children who are reintegrated back to their homes, their homes that look NOTHING like that, that they are far from normal or right? Further, how can all these stipulations be monitored? Anyone can say they are all those things, they will certainly look great on paper but at the end of the day...are they really, genuinely the best foster family for that child who is in dire need of a stable foster parent?!”

Kristen McBride says, “As a single foster parent I think this bill is unfair and unrealistic. Knox is speaking from his own personal experience, not for the families, kids or agencies of kiddos in care. One persons experience does not make it right. We will lose great homes and the kids will suffer. Being married, Christian and refraining from alcohol does not automatically make you a good foster parent. What message are we sending the kiddos who may not have the 'perfect' family to go home to. Are we telling them that they aren't good enough if they don't have that family? How will that effect all the kiddos aging out? I am able to help single moms and their kids because I know what it's like to work and give everything to the kids. I advocate for, help heal and love these kids. Am I not good enough for Knox. Kids need someone who will be there to help them heal from their trauma and just because I am single doesn't mean that I can't help kiddos as much as my friends who are married.”

FOX 4 reached out to the bill's author Forrest Knox, a republican from Altoona, Kansas but so far have received no response.