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First meeting of Senate Committee on Families and Children

From Nancy Royden, LRC

Frankfort, KY -- The new Senate Standing Committee on Families and Children held its first meeting Wednesday, discussing plans to take aim at important and complicated issues in Kentucky.

Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Benton, chairs the committee. He said its jurisdiction includes family and children's issues, child welfare, adoptions, protective services, caregiver support, family preservation programs, senior citizen programs, sexual assault programs and much more.

Other committee members include Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, vice chair; and members, Sen. Rick Girdler, R-Somerset; Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester; Sen. Stephen Meredith, R-Leichfield; Sen. Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville; Sen. Amanda Mays Bledsoe, R-Lexington; Sen. Lindsey Tichenor, R-Smithfield; Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Crofton; and Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville.

Carroll said he looks forward to pinpointing important issues. One of the biggest priorities will be child abuse and neglect, he said, noting that Kentucky ranks among some of the worst states in the nation in those areas.

"That's completely unacceptable, and I'm hopeful that within this committee we can focus on specific issues and really make an impact," Carroll said.

Lawmakers established the new group on Tuesday - the first day of the 2023 legislative session. In previous years, the issues of health, welfare and family services all fell under the jurisdiction of one committee. However, the Senate decided to divide the issues up between two committees this year, and the House has taken a similar approach.

On Wednesday, the Senate committee heard testimony from Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Friedlander praised the General Assembly for the change and said some issues were often overshadowed under the old structure such as the mission of the state Department for Community Based Services (DCBS).

"Medicaid hospital providers, nursing facilities - that's where a lot of the attention goes and not enough attention then goes to the DCBS side, the child protective service side, the adult protective service side, which hardly anybody ever talks about and is critically important," he said.

Sen. Robin L. Webb, D-Grayson, said she looks forward to collaboration with Friedlander and others.

"As a practitioner, I'm glad to see this change, and I have had a lot of thoughts over the years of the way things could be done better," she said. "And I am on the ground in the trenches working with your field people and the challenges that they face too."

Carroll said he supports working with CHFS officials as well.

"I think we're on the same page in a lot of areas," he said. "What we deal with are not political issues. These are dealing with our families and with our kids, and I think it's crucial that the legislative and the executive branch work together."

This story was posted on 2023-01-05 09:01:54
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