Under scrutiny and criticism, cabinet changes way it handles reviews of children who die or nearly die from abuse or neglect

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is now using a standard form when conducting internal reviews involving children who died or nearly died from abuse or neglect. Staff are now also being instructed to focus on specific topics in the reports. These are some of the ways the cabinet has changed how it handles the reviews since it came under “intense scrutiny from the state’s largest newspapers,” reports Beth Musgrave for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

A recent Herald-Leader analysis of 84 reviews from 2009 and 2010 showed there were vast disparities between how they were conducted in different parts of the state, with some of them lengthy and detailed and others just one-page reports that sometimes didn’t even include the facts of a child’s death.

Teresa James, acting commissioner of the Department for Community Based Services, said the standard form allows for “a greater amount of consistency.” Recommendations that stem from the reviews, which are meant to zero in on ways the cabinet could have helped avoid the outcome, will also now require action plans.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, praised the effort. “This is a critical and significant step forward in terms of accountability, transparency and quality assurance,” he said. (Read more)

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