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Kentucky’s Child Welfare Cabinet Reports Fewer Child Fatalities
Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services has released its annual report on child abuse fatalities, which show fewer fatalities this year when compared to previous years’ data. But it may be difficult for lawmakers to use this information in comparison, said Terry Brooks is executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.
The report is three months past, due but the important numbers seem to be down. The cabinet has recorded 18 fatalities this past fiscal year; the total for last year was 33.
The cabinet struggled to report data that was still pending in the courts and some of this years numbers may still fluctuate, said officials. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services has faced criticism for lacking transparency after a case worker was accused of neglecting investigation of an incident leading to a child’s death.
Brooks said reports the past two years have varied from previous years and that makes it difficult for lawmakers to use as a tool for change.
“We count on the governor looking at hard pieces of data when they make decisions about the budgets, about policies, about practices. And if we don’t have a common set of data all of a sudden we fall into the arenas of opinion and we sink,” Brooks said.
The cabinet calls the report objective and evaluative.
“Hopefully, this report can facilitate a greater level of understanding of the work conducted in Kentucky’s child welfare system and facilitate a constructive conversation about improvements and systemic needs,” officials wrote to WFPL in an email.
Gov. Steve Beshear says he wants Kentucky to make mandatory the release of certain child welfare records. The cabinet is not currently required to make all data public.