House Adoption Work Group presents recommendations to improve state's foster care and adoption system

12/20/2017 09:02 AM

Earlier this year, House leadership created the House Adoption Work Group in an effort to bring reform to the process. The bipartisan group spent eight months crafting policy recommendations for the 2018 General Assembly and unveiled those recommendations to House leadership on Tuesday.

The recommendations presented include establishing and maintaining a putative father registry, which would allow potential fathers to go on record if they do not wish to place a child up for adoption.

“He either says, ‘I’m okay if she enters into an adoption plan, or I’m not,’ “ explained family law attorney W. Waverley Townes. “And if he says, ‘I’m not okay with that,’ then he is entitled to notice if she files a petition to place her child in an adoption plan.”

Other recommendations presented by the work group include:

  • standardizing foster care and adoption home studies
  • more effectively recruiting and obtaining social workers, including the use of respite leave, hazardous duty pay or support for career advancement
  • implementing advanced technology solutions, such as iPads for social workers that can be used to complete paperwork more efficiently
  • creating a statutory committee solely focused on child welfare issues

Following the work group’s vote, Terry Brooks, Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, released the following statement, praising the group for their work:


“Today, the Kentucky House Adoption Work Group presented recommendations after their eight-month study. First, we appreciate the work of Representative Meade, Representative Jenkins, and all members of the Work Group on this critical and complex issue. It is a real compliment that this bipartisan group of leaders had the persistence and vision to dig into perhaps the most pressing issue for kids in Kentucky.

The recommendations affirm the broad agreement of needed reforms to improve how state entities respond to and care for children who’ve experienced abuse or neglect. We are especially pleased to see several of the recommendations align with the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children policy priorities, including expanding family preservation programs, strengthening the quality of the workforce that handles abuse and neglect cases, recalibrating and strengthening oversight from the Office of the Ombudsman that takes calls from families, and addressing the need for child care assistance among working parents and caregivers. Another particularly positive aspect of this report is a recognition that child well-being cuts across many parts of state government.

There is a pension crisis to be sure. But we also have major challenges facing the system of child welfare. And that second issue merits resources and political will with the same vigor and intensity as required by the pension situation. As we look ahead to the 2018 session, these thoughtful recommendations need to be realities for Kentucky’s children. Our kids deserve no less than reforms that make the changes and investments they need to succeed. The Kentucky House Adoption Work Group’s recommendations can clearly be a catalyst for these kinds of essential reforms.”.


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