Dora's daughter came back from dad's house with a scary story to tell.

Editor's note: This story explores how a rule change at the Kansas Department of Children and Families could make it easier to prevent accused child abusers from working or living in places that provide child care. It includes information from the Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Center, state and national statistics and personal accounts from McPherson residents. Some names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

Dora's daughter came back from dad's house with a scary story to tell.
Three-year-old Lizzie didn't know how to say she had been molested, but her description of what her father had done to her certainly fit the bill.
“I reported it to the police and got a temporary stop in visitation,” Dora, a McPherson resident then and now, said.
Lizzie was placed in protective custody with her maternal grandparents while the state investigated the allegations. Officials and experts said based on Lizzie's story, they were certain the molestation took place, and during early court proceedings, the judge agreed. Meanwhile, Lizzie's father was fired from his job as a pocommunity as a result of the allegations against him.
However, the ruling didn't stand. After 10 months, the judge ruled there wasn't enough evidence and reversed his ruling, granting Lizzie's father supervised visits. He now has regular visitation rights.
Meanwhile, Lizzie has spent countless hours in therapy and dealt with anger management issues. Though Dora said her daughter has been getting better, it's still a struggle.
“Even though the person from the [Kansas] Department of Children and Families said they believed the story, there wasn't enough evidence to prove it,” Dora said. “Because of that, her father was able to get another job as a police officer in another city.”
Now, the Kansas DCF, is looking for ways to more easily get those accused of child abuse and neglect blocked from working or living in  child care homes or facilities.
The issue essentially boils down to a standard of proof, or how much evidence a person needs to provide in order to prove a crime occurred. The current standard to get an abuser blacklisted is “clear and convincing.” This is a medium standard of proof that requires proving the claim of abuse is substantially more likely to be true than untrue.
Right now, Kansas is the only state that uses this standard of proof to block accused abusers from working in child care. Others use “preponderance of the evidence,” a lower standard that only requires proving the claim is more likely true than untrue, not substantially so.
Kansas DCF wants to lower the standard to match the rest of the country. Though this change would not have removed Lizzie permanently from her father's home, it would prevent him from getting a job or living in a place where children are cared for.
This is significant, as nearly a quarter of children in the United States under the age of 5 attend day care, nursery or preschool. In addition, about 300 Kansas children are placed into foster care each month.
While it's a start, Lisa Donahue, the McPherson and Marion County advocate of the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center, said other steps must be taken to reduce how many children are abused or exposed to violence in the home.
“As we've seen in the news, some people manage to slip in. Lists are great, but it's not the total answer,” she said. “Education and awareness, as well as agency collaboration are the long-term answers.”
Dora, who has worked as a therapist, said she's unsure what the overall effect of this change would be. But in a case like Lizzie's, it could be enough to change some aspect of the case's outcome.
“A lot of people believed her, but there wasn't enough to substantiate it,” she said. “It just wasn't enough to tip the scale.”