Bill requiring additional records checks for school employees, public camp workers headed to House floor

03/09/2017 02:22 PM

FRANKFORT — Legislation that would require school districts to check with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for substantiated instances of child abuse before making hires is heading to the House floor.

The House Health and Family Services committee approved Senate Bill 236 on a unanimous 12-0 vote Thursday.

The bill would require new hires at school districts to obtain letters from the health cabinet indicating that they have no substantiated instances of child abuse or neglect on their records.

SB 236 would also add that requirement for hires at state-sponsored youth camps, and parents would be given the ability to request such a records check for caregivers like babysitters, provided they consent to the review. Private schools in Kentucky would have the option of requiring new hires to present such documentation.

Lori Brent testified before the committee today and shared her ordeal after learning, during an emergency room visit, that a babysitter had broken her 4-month-old son’s arm and leg.

“Through the questioning and investigation, Dr. Melissa Currie from the pediatric forensic department informed us that not only did Jake have a broken arm and leg, he also had an older break healing in his leg,” Brent said.

“She also informed us that, yes, the babysitter was responsible for Jake’s injuries and that she had a history of abuse with her own children, a history that was only found during the investigation of Jake’s injuries.”

Dr. Christina Howard, a child abuse pediatrician, said numerous instances of child abuse or neglect might never make it on a person’s criminal background, often because a child victim can’t or won’t testify in court.

“Therefore there’s a vast majority of individuals who have enough evidence to be substantiated abuse by (the Department for Community Based Services) but will not be identified by a criminal background check,” Howard said.

Rep. Addia Wuchner, a Burlington Republican who chairs the House Health and Family Services Committee, offered her support for the measure.

“These individuals that are entrusted in positions of trust that violate a child, bring harm to an infant or a child, we need to know where they are so that parents have the comfort … knowing that this person does not have a record, a documentation of substantiated cases,” she said.

SB 236 was sent to the House’s consent calendar. It passed the Senate on a 37-0 vote March 2.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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