Kentucky, which leads the nation in deaths of abused and neglected children, should open its records in such cases and those involving severe injuries, the chairman of the state House Health and Welfare Committee and the head of Kentucky Youth Advocates said yesterday.
"State Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, said Friday he will introduce legislation in the 2010 General Assembly that would require state child-protection officials to release their records on children who died or were severely injured as a result of abuse or neglect," reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. Burch told the newspaper that it's possible state employees "didn't do their job right or they had heavy caseloads and didn't have time to look at the case sufficiently."
House Speaker Greg Stumbo told the paper, ""The House is more than willing to look for ways to make life safer for our youngest citizens, and if Rep. Burch believes this is an effective approach to take, I expect the chamber will be supportive of his efforts." Stumbo and Burch are Democrats; the Senate is controlled by Republicans, and Senate President David Williams said he would have to see the legislation before commenting.
KYA Executive Director Terry Brooks, said his group would support the bill and a separate measure to open at least some proceedings in Family Court. "The current undue emphasis on confidentiality only hides issues in the child-welfare system," he told the Herald-Leader. "Broader public exposure is a beginning step to fixing many of the issues that afflict child protection. It is a tough proposition but the right balance can be found between privacy rights, system accountability and disclosure for the sake of system improvements." (Read more)