Attorney general candidate Andy Beshear rolls out seven-point plan to combat child abuse

07/27/2015 10:39 PM

Democratic candidate for attorney general Andy Beshear has released a series of proposed reforms to prevent child abuse in the commonwealth.

On Monday Beshear announced a seven-point plan aimed at cracking down on child abuse in Kentucky.

Nearly 23,000 kids in Kentucky were found to be in need of services in 2014, according to Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky upon their review of data from Child Protective Services and the Department for Community Based Services.

According to the group, the number of reported incidents meriting further investigation by CPS grew 23 percent from 2010 to 2014.

“As Attorney General, my mission will be to end Kentucky’s child abuse epidemic so that every child can grow up in a safe and secure environment. Kentucky has one of the highest physical child abuse and child abuse death rates in the country,” Beshear said in a statement.

“As a father of two young children, I cannot live with this reality. It’s time to make preventing child abuse a priority for leaders across our country, and especially right here in Kentucky.”

Beshear’s seven-point plan includes the creation of a child abuse and exploitation division within the office of attorney general. The division, Beshear says on his website, would bring together “specially trained investigators, prosecutors, and policy experts with vast experience in combatting child abusers and helping victims.”

The division would also be tasked to work with the non-profit sector in an effort to implement prevention strategies and educate parents.

“By organizing our state’s most effective advocates and experts — whether they are in the non-profit community, law-enforcement, healthcare, social work, or another field entirely — this division will put to work the best ideas and practices Kentucky has to offer and make sure that children across the Commonwealth are protected and benefit from these efforts,” the release says.

Beshear would also seek to expand the use of technology to ensure abusers are kept out of the childcare industry.

“This initiative will include expanding the frequency and scope of our background checks to bring them in line with other states and our non-profit community, and centralizing that data into an effective and accessible database for ease of access,” Beshear says in the release.

Currently licensed childcare centers in the state require a one-time child abuse and neglect check (CAN) and a criminal history check. The state does not require a review of the state and federal fingerprints or of the sex offender registry.

Other key parts of the proposal:

  • Regulate all sectors of childcare industry, like summer camps.
  • Integrate non-profits into state policy
  • Required participation in quality rating initiative STARS program — a system which provides parents with information child-to-caregiver ratio, child care staff training, regulatory compliance, and personnel policies.
  • Conduct a review of the foster care system
  • Promote good parenting

Beshear faces state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, in the Nov. 3 Election.


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