Friday, December 22, 2006

More imbalance in KY: Half of state's adoptions occur in 9 counties

Auditor: State could do more
Honeycutt-Spears, Valarie. Lexington Herald-Leader, Dec. 15, 2006, pg. C1.

FRANKFORT -- More than a year ago, before investigations began into whether Kentucky was inappropriately expediting the adoptions of state foster children, State Auditor Crit Luallen started studying another side of the question:

What could Kentucky do to alleviate barriers to adoption?

Yesterday, Luallen told a panel studying the adoption process that Kentucky could do more to promote state adoptions.

And she said that her audit showed foster children are staying in state custody an average of more than three years.

Luallen stressed to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services adoption panel that her audit began long before the Herald-Leader began publishing a series of articles examining "quick trigger" adoptions and removals of children from their biological parents.

"Our staff doesn't have the expertise to second-guess the removals," she told the panel. "We haven't been able to determine if these decisions have been made inappropriately."

Cabinet Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell and child advocate David Richart said yesterday that Luallen's audit supported the concern that removals and adoptions are handled inconsistently throughout the state.

"There are inconsistencies in the number of children in state custody as well as the number of children with a goal of adoption based on the county's population of children," said the audit. "For example, even though Christian County had a higher child population and child poverty rate, Clark County had more children in state custody."

The audit found that half of all the state's adoptions occur in just nine counties.

The audit calls for a wide-ranging public awareness campaign to inform the public that children need homes.

The audit also recommends that Kentucky consider the formation of a birth father registry. Twenty-three states have registries, requiring fathers to show evidence of their desire to parent a child prior to having legal standing to prevent later petitions for adoption.

In addition, Kentucky should expand the family court system throughout the state, Luallen said.


Post a Comment

<< Home