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Local News

Groups Launch Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse

Health care groups and other organizations in Kentucky and Indiana are launching an effort aimed at better protecting children from abuse and neglect.

The Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse includes Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, which hosted an announcement today regarding an educational and awareness campaign addressing the problem.

Allison Ellis is participating in the effort. Her nine-month old granddaughter, Karlie, died in 2009 after she was abused by a family friend. She says no expense or resource should be spared in protecting children.

“They have every right to grow up in a safe and healthy environment. So there should be no budget worries, manpower, or whatever the excuse for lack of investigation. (It) is unexcusable,” she said.

Officials say Kentucky’s child abuse death rate of 30 to 40 per year is among the nation’s highest.

The partnership’s materials include information about anger management and how to look for signs of abuse.

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Local News

Bill Passes Committee Establishing Child Abuse Review Panel

A House Committee has approved a bill that would establish an independent panel to review and report on child abuse cases. The bill doesn’t settle the issue of what case records are public documents, but lawmakers say it’s a step towards transparency.

The question of what information in child death and near death records should be made available to the public is caught up in court. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services wants to protect certain information like still-living victims of child abuse crimes. Others say all information should be made public to identify inadequacies in the system.

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Local News

Judge Speeds Process for Releasing Child Abuse Records

A judge has ordered the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to continue releasing complete child abuse records in the next 90 days; but the Cabinet is likely to continue redacting information in those records pending an appeals court ruling.

Earlier this year, Judge Phillip Shepherd made a final order for the Cabinet to release thousands of pages of child abuse records. Because it was a final order, the Cabinet appealed the decision. Shepherd has now changed his ruling to keep the matter in his court, and to keep the records moving.

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Local News

Appeals Court Weighs In On Child Abuse Records Case

The Kentucky Court of Appeals is weighing in Tuesday on whether the Cabinet for Health and Family Services can transfer full jurisdiction from the Circuit Court in a case regarding the release of its child abuse records.

Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd has previously said the agency has failed to comply with his orders, after it redacted certain information from records he ordered released. The Cabinet is asking the appeals court to uphold its decision to withhold this information, which includes identifying factors for individuals involved in the cases but who are still living.

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Local News

Kentucky’s Child Welfare Cabinet Reports Fewer Child Fatalities

Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services has released its annual report on child abuse fatalities, which show fewer fatalities this year when compared to previous years’ data. But it may be difficult for lawmakers to use this information in comparison, said Terry Brooks is executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

The report is three months past, due but the important numbers seem to be down. The cabinet has recorded 18 fatalities this past fiscal year; the total for last year was 33.

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Local News

Judge Orders State’s Child Abuse Records in 10 Days

With reporting from the Associated Press

A judge has ordered state officials to release 90 internal reviews of child deaths within the next 10 days.

The order is a response to a lawsuit requesting certain child welfare documents be made public. Judge Phillip Shepherd says the order is not meant to pass blame to the cabinet’s social workers, some of whom have been accused of ignoring warnings of child abuse. Instead, the order complies with the Open Records Law, but Governor Steve Beshear says he wants to make transparency the new norm.

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Local News Politics

Beshear Orders Release of Records In Child Abuse Deaths

by Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio

Governor Steve Beshear is ordering the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to open records about child abuse cases that resulted in fatalities or near fatalities. His office is also drafting legislation that would require the release of certain information.

“We need to have a public discourse and a public debate and bring all the experts in. And let the legislature address exactly what information that they feel is appropriate to be mandatorily released and what should be kept confidential,” Beshear said today.

Kentucky is currently a so-called “permissive” state when it comes to information on child fatalities, which means that authorities can choose whether or not to make redacted case records available. It took a judge’s order for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to release records in the case of Amy Dye, a nine year old western Kentucky girl who lived in an abusive home and was beaten to death by her adoptive brother.

In his announcement today, Beshear expressed confidence in Cabinet Secretary Janie Miller and said social workers have a difficult job and not enough resources. But the governor emphasized that more transparency and review are needed to keep Kentucky’s children safe.

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Local News

State Lawmakers, Advocates Question State’s Child Welfare System

State representatives and local advocates are asking Gov. Steve Beshear to consider changes to Kentucky’s child welfare system.

The request comes after reports of a child’s death uncovered that a state caseworker failed to investigate previous allegations of child abuse. This has led some to question the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which is responsible for investigating alleged abuse.

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Local News

Child Advocates React to Child Abuse Study

More children died in Kentucky from abuse and neglect than in any other state – that’s according to numbers from 2007 collected by the group Every Child Matters. Forty-one child deaths that year were ruled to be caused by abuse or neglect.

Kristen Riddick is the President of the Court Appointed Special Advocates – or CASA – of the River Region. She says low socioeconomic status and family histories play a role.

“People that don’t have the right life skills to begin with, so you have families that have not had an educational background to better themselves potentially, maybe don’t have the skill set they need in this environment, economy,” says Riddick. “So that perpetuates the problem.”

Riddick says drug abuse is also a factor – up to 80-percent of fatal child abuse and neglect cases in Kentucky involve children of drug-abusing parents.

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State of Affairs

Child Abuse in Kentucky


Monday, December 7, 2009
Child Abuse in Kentucky
A recent report says that Kentucky leads the nation in child deaths related to abuse or neglect (Indiana is 8th). What factors contributed to this alarming statistic, and what is being done to address the problem of child abuse in neglect in Kentucky? We’ll learn more this Monday, and also talk about some ways you can help spot child abuse, and what to do if you suspect a child is being abused.

Listen to the Show

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