A bill passed by the Kentucky Senate could expand the list of people who can access and search the state’s child abuse and neglect registry. Per a report from the Bowling Green Daily News, the registry, which is maintained by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, is currently only accessible “to entities with statutory or regulatory authority.”
Per coverage, the legislation—Senate Bill 236—would give parents, school districts, and youth-serving camps the right to request child abuse and neglect reports for potential caregivers or employees. A parent looking to hire a babysitter, for instance, would be able to request a search of the registry through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
While parents would have the right to request these child abuse and neglect checks under Senate Bill 236, schools and some youth camps would be required to do so, reports note. Private schools would be given the option to use the registry but wouldn’t be compelled to use it by law. Public schools would be compelled to conduct background checks through the system. Under the legislation, schools would be barred from hiring any employees or contractors with histories of child abuse or neglect to positions that involve being “on school premises during school hours.”
Per reports, only youth camps receiving public funding from the state would be required to run background checks through the registry. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services must provide a letter for each hire certifying that the candidate in question did not have a history of abuse or neglect recorded in Kentucky’s database.
Critics note that “substantiated claims” of child abuse and neglect cataloged in Kentucky’s registry are not necessarily linked to criminal convictions. Per the Bowling Green Daily News report, some of the substantiated claims included in the database are not in the public record. Since Senate Bill 236 would make it possible for anyone to request a search of the database, critics argue, it may violate the privacy of these individuals.
The legislation has been passed by the Senate but hasn’t yet been heard by the House. The bill will head to the House for additional discussion and passage. If the House votes to pass the bill, it will go to the Governor for final approval.