NCJW to hold study forums on Kentucky’s response to abused children

Since 2012, the National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section’s David Richart Committee has been involved with “A Call to Justice for Abused Children,” an advocacy program to educate its members and the public about the controversy concerning the number of Kentucky children who die from neglect and abuse each year (20-30 or more annually).

The committee challenged the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to present all the facts concerning each case – without redacting any evidence and with complete transparency – to the State Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel established by Governor Beshear. The committee emphasized the public’s need to know how the Cabinet intervened in child abuse and neglect situations and advocated for funding for the review panel to carry out its duties.

The Richart Committee has developed a series of free study forums to examine this vital issue. The sessions, which will be held on three successive Tuesday evenings, October 14, 21 and 28, 7:30-9 p.m. at The Temple, U.S. Highway 42 (corner of Brownsboro Road and Lime Kiln Lane) and everyone is urged to attend.

The programs will help explain how the child protection system works, the need for transparency, the positives and problem areas in the system and model programs that have the potential to improve our state system of services.

On October 14, the program will be NCJW’s Mission and the Kentucky Child Protective Services System. The panel will include Judge Jerry Bowles, Jefferson County Circuit Court; Deborah Yetter, Courier-Journal editorial writer; and Jackie Stamps,Jefferson County regional administrator for the Department for Community Based Services.

On October 21, the program will be The Need for Transparency and Public Oversight to Protect Children. The panel will include Judge Patricia Walker Fitzgerald, Jefferson County Circuit Court, Teresa James, commissioner, Department for Community Based Services, Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services; and a former client who has experience with the system.

On October 28, the program will be What Works and What Needs Repair – Where Do We Go from Here?Speakers will include, a parent advocate, a member of the State Fatality and Near FatalityReview Panel and other professionals who will describe effective strategies and programs that help children and families.

The Richart Committee has also proposed that the NCJW, Louisville Section file an amicus brief in support of The Courier-Journal and The Lexington Herald Leader’s law suit seeking transparency and open records from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The Louisville Section agreed that NCJW should proceed with this endeavor. The Section has also begun a second Court Watch Program with volunteers observing how abuse and neglect cases are handled in the courtroom.

A dessert reception will follow each session.

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