The commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Community Based Services, which provides various welfare services like foster care and child protection, is stepping down amid growing criticism about the department’s handling of child abuse cases.
Patricia Wilson submitted her resignation last Friday; officials for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services say it was a personal decision.
Wilson oversees a department within the cabinet that is responsible for the state’s child welfare system, which has been under increased scrutiny following the beating death of a nine year old western Kentucky girl. A judge has said the system failed to remove the girl from the home where she was beaten to death by an adoptive brother early this year.
In her resignation letter Wilson writes “I leave an agency that is stronger in practice, more consistent in performance and attuned to the principles undergirding human services,” but she doesn’t address whether her decision is based on recent criticism.
State Sen. Julie Denton, R-36, was in Louisville Monday as part of a panel addressing child welfare issues at the state level and responded to Wilson’s resignation.
“I’ve always liked Pat. I think she’s professional, bright, I think she’s got experience and knowledge she brings to the table. I just don’t know that she was able to reach her full potential and was limited by the way that this cabinet has been operated,” she said.
Denton is one of two lawmakers who have organized a joint-committee meeting later this month to address concerns about the department and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Wilson was not available for comment. Her last day will be Dec. 19. The cabinet expects to announce her replacement by that time.