A new adoption and foster care reform bill was passed unanimously by the Kentucky Senate. “This is the proudest moment of my legislative career,” said Rep. David Meade, who is an adoptive father and serves as House Majority Caucus Chairman. “These landmark reforms will transform social services in Kentucky, positively affecting the lives of countless children while also adding more oversight and accountability to those overseeing foster care and adoption. With today’s action, it became clear that the 2018 legislative session was all about putting children and families first.”

The legislation was based on the recommendations of the House Working Group on Adoption that worked on the details of the bill throughout 2017. The provisions of the new bill are the following:

1. Expand the definition of blood relative for child placement and ensure that children in foster care are reunited with family or placed in another permanent home quickly.

2. Give a 10-day notice before a foster child is reunified with his or her family or in a new home.

3. Require additional case reviews for children in foster care in a timely manner.

4. Create a “putative father registry” so a child’s biological father can be notified of a child’s prospective adoption.

5. Allow state to terminate parental rights of new mothers of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome who refuse drug rehab.

6. Initiates a 10 percent increase in pay for social workers.

“If there is an arena that historically has been marked by more rhetoric than action, it is around the child welfare system,” said Dr. Terry Brooks of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “HB 1 will fundamentally change the landscape for Kentucky’s most vulnerable young people. That is why we applaud co-sponsors Rep. David Meade and Rep. Joni Jenkins for their diligent work on this measure during the interim to gather input from stakeholders, including youth formerly in foster care.”