FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)—Kentucky children in foster care and other out-of-home care placements would have their own statutory “bill of rights” under a bill that cleared the Kentucky House.
House Bill 158 sponsor and House Speaker Pro Tempore David Meade, R-Stanford, told the House that the foster child “bill of rights”—a list of 16 rights including the right to “adequate food, clothing, and shelter” and “a safe, secure and stable family”— found in HB 158 matches a foster parent “bill of rights” already in statute.
Meade said the bill would “give (foster children) the rights they deserve, to feel loved, protected and safe in their foster homes and adoptive homes and to help them with their transitions as they move forward.”
HB 158 would also require national and state background checks on child residential home and placement agency staff as required under a 2018 federal law, said Meade. The cost of the background checks would be covered by the home or agency, not the employee, he said.
Meade and Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, were the primary sponsors of HB 1 that became law last year. That legislation includes broad adoption and foster care reforms intended to reduce the waiting time for children needing permanent homes and improve the overall foster care and adoption process in Kentucky.
Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville, spoke in support of HB 158 before the House passed the measure on a vote of 99-0.
“We have such an increasing problem,” said Stone. “Hopefully this is the place—right here—to make that better over time.”
Other provisions in HB 158 address timeframes for searches of Kentucky’s “putative father” registry—a state registry created under HB 1 for men who want parental rights to a child they claim to have fathered—as well as clarify some legal definitions involving abuse and neglect of a child. The bill would also update the definition of “voluntary and informed consent” regarding adoption.
HB 158 now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
Media release from the Legislative Research Commission