A report by the the Cabinet for Health and Family Services shows 18 Kentucky children died from abuse or neglect in the past fiscal year, down from 33 the year before. Ten were part of families that had been involved with state social service officers, reports Deborah Yetter of The Courier-Journal.
The report is required by state law, but was a much shorter version than it has been in years past. This year's document was 15 pages long, compared to the 29-page report from last year and "provides limited information and omits much of the detail of past annual reports," Yetter writes.
Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said the drop in deaths is good news, but called the scaled-down version of the report "a failure," saying it made it difficult to compare findings from past years. It was also three months late in being released.
"They are scrambling to get it out three months late," he said. "At a time when this issue needs some transparency and more visibility, they have given us the Reader's Digest version."
Lawmakers have scheduled a meeting Dec. 19 to talk to cabinet officials about the issue of child abuse deaths and to review the report, the latest sign the issue is starting to attract more attention. Earlier this week, Gov. Steve Beshear ordered the release of records of abuse in which children died, but the cabinet immediately filed a motion saying it needed more time.
In 2009, a federal government report found Kentucky had the highest rate of child abuse deaths with 41 deaths based on 2007 data — the most recent at the time — from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, Kentucky dropped to 19th place with 22 deaths based on the 2008 data. The 2009 numbers showed Kentucky ranked fourth. (Read more)