A bill known as the Foster Children’s Bill of Rights has been signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin after winning unanimous approval in both the House and Senate.
The list of 16 statutory rights for children in out-of-home placement in Kentucky is a key component of the legislation sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore David Meade, R-Stanford, who told his House colleagues when they first approved the bill last month that the list complements a foster parent bill of rights already in statute.
Included on the list of rights for foster children are the rights to “adequate food, clothing and shelter, a safe, secure, and stable family,” and “freedom from physical, sexual, or emotional injury or exploitation,” among several others.
Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton, who managed the bill in the Senate, said it would bring Kentucky in compliance with the federal Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018. That act seeks to curtail the use of group care for children and instead places a new emphasis on family foster homes.
Grayson Journal-Enquirer: Bevin Right to Champion Adoption, Foster Care
We often disagree with policy decisions made by Gov. Matt Bevin but today we salute him for being the champion of improving the lives of children in Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system.
Legislation to revamp the system, House Bill 1, is assured of passage in the waning days of the 2018 session and the bulk of the credit goes to the governor and his wife, who are adoptive parents themselves.
HB 1 emerged from a partisan working group created on the last day of the 2017 session by then House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, with cochairs Reps. David Meade, R-Stanford, and Joni Jenkins, D-Louisville.
Unlike the apparently failed effort to reform public pensions, the foster-adoption group held a series of public meetings and other gatherings with those who know the most about such matters.
Attracting and retaining high quality staff was given a boost when Bevin proposed adding $24 million for hiring and rewarding good staff.
Another $10.8 million was suggested for improving the foster care placement and adoption processes.
Future work on adoption and foster care could come later through a permanent Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee which would advise the General Assembly on child welfare.