New Kentucky Law Closes Gaps in Child Abuse Reporting
Thursday, April 27, 2023
A new Kentucky law closes gaps in child abuse reporting and prevention laws and strengthens supports for at-risk families.
Senate Bill 229 requires suspected cases of maltreatment by an employee of a state agency be reported accurately and in a timely manner, streamlines the chain of command for reporting abuse, and allows child welfare case hearings to be transferred to the Office of Legal Services within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Shannon Moody, chief policy and strategy officer for Kentucky Youth Advocates, said the law also allows the department to reach out to families who might be struggling but do not fully meet the criteria for an investigation.
"It's not a typical investigation where there's substantiation of abuse or neglect," Moody explained. "But it allows for DCBS to go into the homes, to provide some resources to the family, before it sometimes even gets to the level of abuse occurring."
Rep. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, and Rep. David Yates, D-Louisville, co-sponsored the bipartisan legislation. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Kentucky continues to rank among the top 10 states nationwide for rates of child maltreatment, according to federal data.
Chris Williams, senior vice president of communications at Kosair for Kids, said the law puts the state on the path toward ending child abuse.
"We have vowed to end child abuse neglect in Kentucky," Williams emphasized. "This legislation passing is one more step to helping children overcome obstacles that they did not put in place themselves."
The "TEN-4" rule identifies bruising on the torso, ears and neck on children under age four, and bruising anywhere on an infant, as a red flag for child abuse. In Kentucky, state law requires all adults to report suspected cases of abuse.
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