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Summit to Address Legislative Changes Regarding Child Welfare Issues

Kentucky Youth Advocates is inviting lawmakers to a summit on Jan. 14 to discuss potential legislative changes that would affect the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Attendees will try to craft ideas that encourage transparency.“Our goal for Jan. 14 is to come out of that with some hard nosed practical legislative solutions because it is clear that we can not count on the administration to generate the solutions,” said Terry Brooks, KYA executive director.The cabinet had its fair share of attention last year. After a case worker was accused of failing to further investigate a case that led to a child’s death, a whole new set of questions about policies and procedures were brought forward.There were several meetings regarding the child welfare system, some in the Kentucky legislature, others in the community. Now, Kentucky Youth Advocates will hold a summit to make changes happen, said Brooks.“It is our intent that day to hammer out a consensus around a set of three to five policy recommendations,” he said.Several lawmakers and advocates have already expressed interest, including both state Representative Tom Burch, D-30, and state Senator Julie Denton, R-36. Both are co-chairs of the Joint Health and Welfare Committee, which held a special meeting in Decemberto address cabinet issues.Brooks said an invitation will be extended to Gov. Steve Beshear, but if he doesn’t attend, the summit will go on without him. The administrative office of Chief Justice John Minton is offering to pay travel expenses for judges wanting to attend, said Brooks.Legislation previously introduced by Burch, which would make the Cabinet for Health and Family Services more transparent, was rejected in past legislative sessions.

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