Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
Today, the Kentucky House Adoption Work Group presented recommendations after their eight-month study. First, we appreciate the work of Representative Meade, Representative Jenkins and all members of the Work Group on this critical and complex issue. It is a real compliment that this bipartisan group of leaders had the persistence and vision to dig into perhaps the most pressing issue for kids in Kentucky.
The recommendations affirm the broad agreement of needed reforms to improve how state entities respond to and care for children who’ve experienced abuse or neglect. We are especially pleased to see several of the recommendations align with the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children policy priorities, including expanding family preservation programs, strengthening the quality of the workforce that handles abuse and neglect cases, recalibrating and strengthening oversight from the Office of the Ombudsman that takes calls from families, and addressing the need for child care assistance among working parents and caregivers. Another particularly positive aspect of this report is a recognition that child well-being cuts across many parts of state government.
There is a pension crisis to be sure. But we also have major challenges facing the system of child welfare. And that second issue merits resources and political will with the same vigor and intensity as required by the pension situation. As we look ahead to the 2018 session, these thoughtful recommendations need to be realities for Kentucky’s children. Our kids deserve no less than reforms that make the changes and investments they need to succeed. The Kentucky House Adoption Work Group’s recommendations can clearly be a catalyst for these kinds of essential reforms.