"Kentucky looks to speed up adoptions", is the Courier-Journal front page headline reporting on the Blue Ribbon Panel on Adoption meeting in Frankfort yesterday. The online edition link to today's article was not yet available at the early hour of this posting. What an informative and productive meeting it appears to have been. Kentucky State Auditor Crit Luallen, a potential 2007 gubernatorial candidate, presented the results of an audit showing that children removed from homes because of abuse and neglect are waiting for adoption on average three years, longer than permitted by federal guidelines. The year long study makes no conclusions as to whether children are removed too hastily from homes, the issue that caused the panel to be formed in the first place. Mark D. Birdwhistle, chair of the panel stated that there are "pockets of problems" and acknowledged the need to have consistent standards across the state.
Many thoughtful and much needed ideas are being floated to this influential panel and discussed which is very welcome news. For example, yesterday auditor Luallen made recommendations for speeding up the three year wait for the 2000 children currently available for adoption, including creation of a birth father registry. We have reported on such a registry here and announced some new scholarly articles on these issues here.
Chief Judge, Jefferson Circuit Court, Family Division Stephen George and Family Court Judge Patricia Walker FitzGerald also presented to the panel the need for Guardians Ad Litem to be fairly paid and the need for attorneys to be appointed to represent parents at the initial temporary removal hearing. Judge George also said removing the confidentiality requirements of current law in dependency cases would make the family courts more accountable.
UPDATE: Here's the link to the Courier-Journal article by Deborah Yetter.