Kentucky’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee is trying to add more oversight to a child fatality review panel in a bill approved Wednesday, but child advocates say the amendment doesn’t go far enough.
The panel was temporarily established by Gov. Steve Beshear through executive order last year. It’s meant to review certain child death and near death cases to ensure the system is doing everything it can to prevent child abuse and neglect.
The House unanimously passed the bill to establish the panel permanently, but executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates Terry Brooks says keeping the panel under the Justice Cabinet–as the House bill does– limits the appearance of transparency.
“We’re disappointed in that, candidly. We really thought that we could have gotten it out of the executive branch. We also have been pushing the idea that panel members need to sign conflict of interest statements.”
The move by the Senate committee to give the Program Review and Investigations Committee legislative oversight of the child fatality and near fatality review panel is a step in the right direction, Brooks says.
The bill, if passed, is also likely to include regular panel reports and the panel would have access to certain records that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services has controversial been withholding.