On Thursday, Representative David Meade joined Governor Matt Bevin, lawmakers, and countless advocates for children and families in the Capitol Rotunda for a ceremonial signing of House Bill 1.
The legislation transforms the way Kentucky handles foster care and adoption in order to better benefit children, who often remain in state custody for years. Over 9,000 Kentucky children currently are in state care.
“House Bill 1 is a game-changer for the thousands of children sitting in state care, many of whom have had little hope for stability in their lives,” noted Representative Meade. “It will change the lives of many children in the years to come, and will also make it easier for loving parents to take in children of their own.”
HB 1 was the top priority of the House of Representatives for the 2018 session, and is the result of a yearlong effort to streamline the foster care and adoption systems. The effort reduces the bureaucracy that often stands in the way of children getting into loving homes in a timely manner, while also making other significant, pro-family reforms.
The legislation creates quicker timelines for the court system to terminate parental rights and place children. It also reduces the amount of bureaucracy and paperwork involved in the process, not only for adopted parents, but for the social workers who must deal with ever-increasing caseloads. These reforms come alongside a higher emphasis on the oversight of child welfare, as the legislation creates an oversight and advisory committee in the legislature and establishes independent oversight over the Health and Family Services Cabinet.
The reforms are fully funded in the state’s new biennial budget, which takes effect on July 1. New funding also includes pay raises of up to 10 percent for state social workers.
House Bill 1 also takes sound action to protect infants diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome as result of the mother misusing controlled substances. The bill begins the process of terminating parental rights and getting the child into a better situation if the mother refuses to enroll in drug treatment within a six month period.
“Humility and compassion have guided myself and countless others in this effort. We have come together in a bipartisan manner to do what is truly best for Kentucky’s children – who were the big winners of the 2018 legislative session,” added Meade.