Child abuse reviews show failed communication in agency

A picture of failed communication is developing as reporters sift through 86 internal reviews of incidents of child abuse, says an editorial in today’s Lexington Herald-Leader. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services released the reviews last week under court order.

“This pattern of failed communication only came to light because this newspaper and Louisville’s Courier-Journal have aggressively pursued these records in court and Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd has relentlessly pushed the cabinet to open the records,” the editorial reads.
The piece highlights several instances where communication breakdown led to tragic events, beginning with the case of 9-year-old Amy Dye, right, in which a school nurse had written six reports about suspected abuse or injuries. The cabinet’s file only contained three of them.
Madaline Grace Reynolds died when she didn’t get the medicine she needed to treat her cystic fibrosis. The review found the child-protection worker did not look into whether or not her parents had filled her prescriptions.
“But the faulty communication doesn’t stop there,” the editorial reads, referring to Tuesday’s hearing by the Interim Joint Health and Welfare Committee in which legislators came down hard on the cabinet for “failing to inform them about regulations that prevented it from investigating abuse by a sibling, such as in Amy Dye’s case,” the editorial reads.

“The cabinet, indeed the entire executive branch, has shown it won’t fully address these issues without the hot, bright light of outside pressure,” the editorial concludes. “The courts have acted responsibly and forcefully. Now, the legislature must take up the painstaking and painful job of examining the cabinet’s work, finding the missed connections and fixing them.” (Read more)

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