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Kentucky Child Abuse Review Panel Bill Passes House Committee

A bill solidifying a panel to review child death and near death cases passed Kentucky’s House Health and Welfare Committee Thursday.Gov. Steve Beshear created an external government panel by executive order last year to review certain child abuse cases. The order—established in the summer of 2012—followed a failed attempt by the General Assembly to pass a bill that would have established a similar panel.Thursday afternoon, Rep. Tom Burch’s, D-30, House Bill 290 passed the committee, according to Kentucky Youth Advocates executive director Terry Brooks who has followed the issue closely and was at the committee meeting.“The message that I took away from the vote was that the committee as a whole understands that this is a good beginning step,” Brooks says.But there are still some issues that need to be worked out, like how much transparency should be allowed, he said.The Cabinet for Health and Family services has been criticized for not releasing certain child abuse records and case information arguing for the protection of sensitive information like names of those involved with the cases.Brooks says there was some compromise between committee members and says the full House could take the issue up as early as next week.Further, he says the bill is an improvement over the current panel that exists and would allow the new panel to access a broader range of documents.But he says there will likely be an active dialog that will continue in later meetings and the current bill is likely to be tweaked.“A lot of the phrase you heard today was, this was good but it wasn’t good enough,” says Brooks.

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