Legislators to discuss child abuse report Monday; chilling stories emerging about abuse trends

After a wave of stories pertaining to child abuse records made front-page news this week, the Interim Joint Health and Welfare Committee will meet Monday to discuss the Cabinet for Health and Family Services‘ recently released report on child-abuse fatalities and near-fatalities.

The meeting will be held at 1 p.m. in room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Click here to see live video streaming of the meeting provided by KET.
This year’s report was released earlier this month and showed 18 Kentucky children died from child abuse or neglect in the past year, down from 33 in 2009. But critics say the report is incomplete, just 15 pages long compared to the 29-page report last year. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, called the report “a failure,” saying it made it difficult to compare findings from past years. It was also three months late in being released.
On Monday, the cabinet released 86 internal reviews of cases in which children had either been killed or nearly killed from abuse, though in many instances did not release the names of the children who were affected. The records were handed over by the cabinet after years of litigation and two weeks after Gov. Steve Beshear ordered the release.
The documents show there is a lack of protocol in handling the case reviews, the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Bill Estep and Beth Musgrave reported.
Another Herald-Leader analysis that ran in today’s edition showed more communication is needed between doctors and social workers. Reporter Valarie Honeycutt Spears cited one instance in which a 22-month old girl came to the University of Kentucky Medical Center with hair loss and an ulcer in her mouth.
“While at the hospital, the toddler developed bruises, and she cried when her mother came into the room,” she reports. On Feb. 19, the girl died, with an autopsy showing she had broken bones, multiple bruises, a detached aorta, and a laceration to the liver. Her hair had also been pulled so hard she had a large hematoma on the top of her head.
In their review, cabinet officials determined UK did not report its concerns because there had been no history of abuse. “This has already been addressed with UK, and their policies have changed as a result of this incident,” the report reads.
The toddler’s case is one of 14 that involved children who had died or nearly died in 2009 and 2010 “that cited a need for better communication between medical professionals and child-protection workers,” Spears reports. (Read more)
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