TOPEKA, Kansas— One of Kansas’ largest residential facilities for boys who need more help than most foster homes can offer looks to be spared from closing.
Sequel of Kansas LLC signed the original lease for Lakeside Academy in Wichita circa 2008 and recently told the Department of Children and Families that it would no longer operate the facility. It could have meant closing the operation.
But the owner of the property said another company, Successful Dreams, was considering taking over.
“It’s all been agreed,” said Dick Kelsey, a former state legislator and owner of the Lakeside property. “It takes a while to get it on paper and get the signatures, but it’s a done deal.”
Kelsey said Successful Dreams will begin handling the installation on May 1. Mike Deines, senior director of public and government affairs at DCF, was unable to confirm that a new company has taken over, but said things are moving in that direction.
Successful Dreams did not respond to requests for comment.
Matt Stephens, vice president of child and family services at St. Francis Ministries, said Lakeside is a helpful resource for the agency. Foster care systems prefer to place children in a child-friendly family setting, but Stephens said treatment facilities have advantages.
The facility has 45 beds and St. Francis now has children there. Stephens said he received a letter in mid-March saying the store was closing. This meant that these children seemed to need new homes.
“Finding 45 more beds is probably not the biggest problem,” he said, “it’s really about making sure we find the right beds and the capacity from a behavioral perspective. C What really gets harder is making sure we have the right mix of beds in the system.
Stephens said it’s difficult to ensure services match children’s needs. The loss of a supplier like Lakeside Academy could further complicate this issue. One of the components of this is that the beds are not available because there are no staff to occupy them.
“Lakeside is obviously a piece of the equation,” he said. “But I think it’s broader than that. This is to ensure that we can assess the needs of children in care and ensure that the capacities and the system match those needs.
Blaise Mesa reports on criminal justice and social services for the Kansas News Service in Topeka. Follow him on Twitter @Blaise_Mesa. The Kansas News Service is a collaboration between Kansas Public Radio, KCUR, KMUW, and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health, and how they relate to public policy. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news outlets free of charge with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.