FRANKFORT—Paul Chitwood, executive director of the 750,000-member Kentucky Baptist Convention, praised the state's political leaders on May 31 for adoption and foster care reforms enacted earlier this year.
Chitwood, an adoptive father and foster parent, offered his gratitude at a ceremony at the state capitol to elected leaders who changed the system for hurting kids, speeding the process for them to move from foster care to adoptive families.
"In this day of political division, polarization and acrimony, I am thankful that the nation and the world can look to our state and see how people can come together to find solutions for our biggest problems," he said.
More than 8,000 Kentucky children are currently in state care, largely in foster homes, and awaiting adoption. The new law mandates quicker timelines for courts to place children in adoptive homes, establishes a putative father register to prevent delays in placement proceedings, and implements more rigorous oversight of the state agencies that oversee child welfare.
Lawmakers also provided $23 million for foster placement efforts, $28 million to hire more social workers and upgrade their technology, and $22 million to increase the salaries of social workers carrying heavy child welfare caseloads.
Under Chitwood's leadership, the KBC, along with Sunrise Children's Services, pushed for the adoption and foster care reforms.
"Make no mistake about it, this new law may address little children, but these are big problems," Chitwood said.
Rep. David Meade, R-Stanford, sponsor of the legislation and an adoptive parent himself, said the new law "is a game changer for thousands of children."
"We all want a bright future for our state and that starts with improving the lives of those that are the future of this commonwealth," Meade said. (KT)