Legislation designed to address many issues related to child abuse and neglect in Kentucky has been introduced for consideration by the 2022 General Assembly.
Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, said she was sponsoring the legislation because of the state’s poor reputation on the issue, and follows months of 2021 interim committee meetings that included testimony from a social worker and dedicated review and discussion of state child welfare status. .
“Senate Bill 8 incorporates input and input from various agencies, advocates, youth in foster care and community partners,” she told the Senate when announcing that she had tabled the measure. “Senate Bill 8 was developed in consultation with the Attorney General’s Office, the Office of Health and Family Services, the Courts Administration Office, Child Advocacy Centers and other child protection organizations. childhood.”
SB 8 is designed to fill gaps in the state’s existing child abuse and neglect laws, Adams said.
It expands and redefines the membership of the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Council, to include all forms of child abuse and neglect. It secures additional resources and support for Kentucky children’s advocacy centers and provides critical updates to the Foster Youth Bill of Rights. It also expands the capacity of family preservation services and makes key distinctions between poverty and neglect.
“Know that I have carefully crafted this legislation in a way that should unite us,” Adams told his colleagues. “Of all that often divides us in Frankfurt and Washington, this issue is not one of them.”
According to the 2020 annual report released by the Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel, Kentucky leads the nation three years in a row in rates of child abuse and neglect. Adams said she hopes her bill will serve as a turning point to turn the tide.
“Behind every statistic is a helpless child who needs our help. If the numbers alone don’t alarm you and inspire you to action, think of the precious person connected to them,” Adams said.
She considers the bill to be a good first step in the process.
“Kentucky didn’t reach our levels of child abuse and neglect overnight,” Adams said. “I want to bring clarity and temper expectations, and SB 8 will not fix things overnight. It will take time and require us to remain intentionally engaged in the effort to protect our children.
Adams is chair of the Child Protection Advisory and Oversight Committee and was a tireless advocate for child abuse prevention when she was chair of the Senate Majority Caucus.
The bill has not yet gone to committee.