Kentucky Youth Advocates will propose three main recommendations this week for changes to the state’s child welfare system, according to executive director Terry Brooks. Nearly 250 Kentuckians attended a summit this weekend to discuss those changes, including Janie Miller, secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Attendees heard dozens of recommendations but the decision to narrow down ideas came down to the ideas’ impact and feasibility for government to make the change, said Brooks.
The number one priority is cabinet transparency, he said.
“It does require some political courage from the governor and the legislative leaders. It does require some commitment from the cabinet, but that would have tremendous impact in terms of impact, accountability, compliance credibility, and we’re not talking about a dollar figure on that,” Brooks said.
The second idea is to support preventative services and community involvement, which also shouldn’t be a budget buster, he said.
But the third recommendation is to reduce case loads for child welfare employees and that may divert funds from other departments, said Brooks.
“The third idea is also one with big impact and the honest answer is its going to be tough, because it is a big ticket item,” he said.
Kentucky’s case workers have statistically more cases than the national average. But the General Assembly will have to set firm priorities in this session, which will be dominated by discussions over the next state budget and redistricting, said Brooks.
A formal letter with recommendations will be delivered to legislative leaders this week.