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'Our kids deserve it': Lawmakers aim to reverse Kentucky's high child abuse rates

Kentucky State Capitol
Posted at 4:02 PM, Jan 26, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky lawmakers are uniting to pass legislation created to tackle child abuse and neglect.

"Everybody in this state legislature is interested in changing our dynamic of child abuse and neglect," said Sen. Julie Raque Adams, the primary sponsor of the bill - Senate Bill 8.

Raque Adams says Kentucky is currently "not a healthy place to raise some children."

"We have received the number one ranking for abuse and neglect for the last three years," she explained. "So, we need to change that dynamic."

Senate Bill 8 is essentially the first step in the process for Kentucky to make changes. It is designed to address loopholes in Kentucky's current child abuse and neglect laws.

For example, it expands the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board to include all forms of child abuse and neglect. It updates the Foster Youth Bill of Rights. It expands the ability for family preservation services. It also provides additional resources for Kentucky Child Advocacy Centers.

"We're holistically putting together the definition of child abuse," said Raque Adams. "We're tackling all forms of child abuse. We're not just tackling sexual abuse. We're tackling abuse and neglect."

At Wednesday's Senate Health and Welfare committee, Raque Adams was praised for her legislation by both democrats and republicans. The bill easily passed out of committee and will move forward in the legislative process.

"Our kids deserve it," said Raque Adams. "That's why the Senate has made this a priority bill. That's why I almost cried at the table. That's why everybody on this committee is invested. Because we need to make a difference."