Adoption and foster care reform bill goes to full House

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Legislative, Session, House of Representatives, Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A family trip to Niagara Falls a couple of years ago became somewhat problematic for House Majority Caucus Chair David Meade and his family after they crossed into Canada.

Meade, R-Stanford, who was a co-chair of the 2017 House Working Group on Adoption, said the snag occurred when a border guard questioned the birth certificate of his Korean-born adopted daughter. Current state law requires birth certificates for those adopted outside the U.S. clarify that the birth certificate is not evidence of U.S. citizenship, he said.

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“He would not let us cross until he got approval from his supervisor to do so,” said Meade.

House Bill 1, sponsored by Meade, would remove that language. It is one of dozens of proposed changes in the bill approved today by the House Health and Family Services Committee per recommendations of the working group.

The overall purpose of the reform bill, said Meade, is to begin to reform Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system for more than 8,600 children in state out-of-home care who may or may not be able to return home to family.

Some more significant provisions of the bill would allow the state to charge a mother with child abuse if she gives birth to a drug-addicted baby, streamline rules for termination of parental rights, and ensure that dependent, neglected or abused children placed in foster care are reunified with family or placed in a new permanent home in a timely manner.

“Right now, the Cabinet (for Health and Family Services) does a six-month case permanency review. We are also adding that every three months after that that they would go back and do another review on that child, just to make sure that we are keeping up with that child and are doing what is best in their plan,” said Meade.

In keeping with around 27 other states, Kentucky would also create a confidential “putative father registry” under HB 1. The registry will allow a man who thinks he could be the father of a child – but whose paternity hasn’t been established and who was not married to the child’s mother before or at the time of birth – to register with the state in order to be notified of the child’s prospective adoption.

More work on adoption and foster care could come in later years through the work of a Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee that would also be created by HB 1. It would be the job of that committee to “review, analyze, and provide oversight to the General Assembly on child welfare” in the state, according to HB 1.

Rep. Joni Jenkins, who co-chaired the 2017 adoption working group with Meade and joins him as a primary sponsor of HB 1, said she is proud of the bill. Jenkins, D-Shively, said HB 1 includes input from the executive and judicial branches and from First Lady Glenna Bevin, who Jenkins said was “very much involved” in the process.

“We were able to compromise on many, many areas, and I think we have an excellent work product here,” she said.

HB 1 now goes to the full House for consideration.

 

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.