Increase transparency and accountability within child welfare cases – Senate Bill 48, among other things, establishes a more independent Ombudsman office for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to help ensure that child welfare cases and maltreatment reports are being investigated to their full extent without conflict of interest.
Close the gaps in reporting of suspected maltreatment and provide opportunities for relationship building between the Department for Community Based Services and families – Senate Bill 229 ensures that if maltreatment is suspected of an employee of a reporting agency, it must be reported accurately and in a timely manner directly to an appropriate external reporting agency; clarifies that agencies cannot utilize a chain of command process so that reports are made directly from the professional who suspects abuse with key details and insight around the alleged maltreatment; allows the Department for Community Based Services to do an assessment rather than an investigation, when appropriate, as a means to strengthen prevention and early intervention efforts and build a more collaborative relationship with the family facing an investigation; and takes steps to establish an Agency Representation Model to improve efficiency within the child welfare system by allowing the transfer of case hearings to the Office of Legal Services within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Strengthen points of the child welfare system – Senate Bill 8 establishes new membership of the State Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, clarifies the definition of neglect, expands the definition of fictive kin, expands Medicaid reimbursement eligibility for professionals who provide services at Children’s Advocacy Centers, and expands opportunities for youth aging out of foster care.
Improve efforts following a child fatality or near fatality – Senate Bill 97 requires coroners to immediately notify law enforcement, the Department for Community Based Services, and local health department upon the death of a child and expands the External Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Panel.
Invest in programs that keep kids safe and support families – House Bill 1 enacts a two-year state budget that, among other things, increases investment in the Department for Community Based Services workforce, sustains funding for the HANDS in-home visiting program, allocates funding to support a team of child abuse pediatricians and specially trained staff who treat children experiencing abuse and neglect, and increased funding for domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and Children’s Advocacy Centers.
Extend the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse – HB472 strengthens the statute of limitations timeframes for misdemeanor sexual abuse offenses from five to ten years to accommodate for delayed abuse disclosure.
Support evidence informed programs that keep families safely together while they recover from substance abuse. – Increase of $31.5 million overall in DCBS budget.
Increase investments for professionals who respond to child abuse and neglect with forensic services and assessments. – Appropriation of $1.5 million in fiscal year 2020-2021 for DV shelters, rape crisis centers, and child advocacy centers to assist them with employer contribution rates for the Kentucky Employees Retirement System.
Takes steps to align state law with the federal Family First Prevention Services Act including modifying background checks for child serving agencies – HB158 establishes a bill of rights for children in foster care.
Ensures courts will have more complete information about alleged child abuse – SB137 keeps kids safer from abuse by allowing adults to whom a child has disclosed abuse to testify in court.
Keeps kids safe and improve how Kentucky responds to and supports families – HB1 provides adequate funding and improvements in how we respond to and support families and also increasing the independence and transparency of the Ombudsman’s office.
Keeps kids safer from abuse when in settings with adults – SB236 closes gaps in background checks for public schools, youth camps, and in-home babysitters.
Broadens the scope of a child’s testimony in court – SB60 allows courts to consider a child’s more generalized testimony about a pattern of abuse, known as a continuous course of conduct
Equips all educators to know how to recognize and report child abuse – SB119 ensures all public school educators receive training about child abuse and neglect so they can help protect children.
Protects teens and children from effects of dating violence – HB8 extends protective orders to victims of dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This protects many teens in dating relationships and children whose parents experience violence in dating relationships.
Helps reduce child deaths from pediatric abusive head trauma – HB157 equips doctors with education on how to recognize early warning signs of pediatric abusive head trauma and intervene.
Secured funding for the child fatality review panel – Funding for the panel allows it to more closely review child abuse death tragedies and develop recommendations to help prevent future deaths from occurring.
Advocated for a panel to reduce child abuse deaths – HB290 put into law the Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel to review child abuse deaths, improve practices in the child welfare system, and prevent future child abuse deaths.