A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

House adoption group presents sweeping recommendations for foster care, adoption system

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Lawmakers on the House Working Group on Adoption panel approved sweeping recommendations Tuesday on improving Kentucky’s foster care and adoption system.

The eight-member bi-partisan panel met seven times since its appointment by former House Speaker Jeff Hoover on the last day of the 2017 General Assembly.

They heard from judges, social workers, those who have gone through the foster care system and many other stakeholders before coming up with more than a dozen recommendations.

Rep. David Meade, R-Stanford, the co-chair of the panel, hopes some of the recommendations can become proposed bills for the upcoming legislation session. He said they will be given to Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne and “out of that will begin to draft a bill.”

The panel was diligent and passionate about the recommendations that could make the foster care and adoption system much improved.

House adoption committee members from left, Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Louisville and Rep. David Meade, R-Stanford, during Tuesday’s meeting where the group made more than a dozen recommendations. (Kentucky Today/Tom Latek)

“I think this is a beautiful thing. I love seeing everyone work together for Kentucky’s kids,” said Kentucky’s first lady Glena Bevin, a strong proponent of foster care and adoption. “We were honored to work with House leadership staff throughout this process and are very happy with the result. I look forward to supporting these recommendations by advocating for future legislation.”
However, the state’s financial situation could affect how much goes up for consideration.

“We’ve got some budget constraints,” Osborne said.  “So I’m not sure what we’re going to be able to do.  We’ll look in to it and see what we can do.” 

Here are some of the recommendations from the panel:

· Establishing and maintaining a putative father registry, which would ensure a potential father’s rights, while preventing unnecessary delay or interruption in a child’s permanency proceedings or status.

· Standardizing foster care and adoption home studies used by the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services as well as private agencies.

· Educating birth mothers about adoption options while they are pregnant and after they give birth.

· Establishing a comprehensive timeline for termination of parental rights, to prevent delays in a child’s permanency decision from start to finish.

· Base contracts between DCBS and private foster care and adoption agencies on performance, to ensure each child and his or her adoptive or foster care family is treated with the same level of care and efficiency as their peers.

· Strengthen the role of the Ombudsman, who hears grievances against DCBS employees or private contractors, including the possibility of removing the office from the Cabinet.

· Implement advanced technology studies, to create solutions to the paperwork problems that DCBS faces.

· More effectively recruit and retain DCBS social workers.  That includes opportunities for benefits such as respite leave and hazardous duty pay.

· Incorporate findings by the Program Review and Investigation Committee’s foster care system report.  That includes reducing social worker caseloads, and diligent reporting by DCBS and the Administrative Office of the Courts on child placement and permanency decisions.

· Expand the role of the Citizens Foster Care Review Board, which advises judges on the cases of children on their dockets, such as those in state custody by court order.

· Create a statutory or permanent legislative committee that focuses on child welfare issues.  Meeting regularly throughout the year, it would provide lawmakers an opportunity to learn more on the issue, and provide a platform for stakeholders, including foster and adoptive parents, DCBS officials, health care providers and advocacy groups in the field.

· Ease filing and service of process requirements in DNA cases.  That would include allowing emergency custody orders in the county where the child lives.  Current state law only includes the county where a child is found.

· Expand family preservation and reunification programs and intensive in-home services, to assist families in developing better parenting skills, obtaining substance abuse treatment, and other resources to maintain the welfare of the family unit and avoid out-of-home care wherever possible.

· Address the need for child care in Kentucky’s workforce.  Research shows early childhood helps youngsters under five years of age become more school-ready and find higher wage jobs later in life than those whose first education comes in kindergarten.

· Supplement the definition of “abuse” within the state’s DNA laws to address neonatal drug addiction.

· Streamline the private agency parental recruitment process to ensure those recommended by private agencies may also be used by DCBS.

· Allow reciprocity in home studies completed by other states’ health agencies.

Related Posts

One Comment

  1. Tired of excuses says:

    There needs to be a three strikes you are out rule. How many times does a child have to be sent back because Mom and Dad completed a “program” and therefore the child MUST be sent back. Three times, in my opinion, is two times too many. The concept of family preservation should be limited. Let’s see a study and statistics on how many removals are happening in each case before it’s finally the last straw. My guess is by then the neglect has escalated to abuse and/or sexual abuse. Mentally, emotionally, sometimes physically the child is destroyed by then. The government is an accomplice for returning the child to the natural parents, who usually only want a check. Some of the mothers who have had as many as nine drug babies, removed from their care, should be offered a free tubal after the first drug baby. I’d be happy for taxpayers to pay for that rather than abortion. . This can’t go on and on and on. We have generation after generation of drug addicted babies now. How much can those individuals contribute to society with the mental and physical deficiencies caused by suboxone, cocaine, meth… used during pregnancy? And why, why, why are the drugged Moms giving birth to drug addicted babies, not prosecuted? It’s time to stop feeling sorry for drug addicts. Each one leaves at least 20 victims in their wake. We’ve known for fifty years that drugs are addictive, just like cigarettes. We’ve had anti drug programs in schools since the sixties, so it’s a rare case where an addict didn’t make a choice.

Leave a Comment