State Representative John Tilley says he’s glad Governor Steve Beshear and others are discussing how to best protect the most vulnerable of Kentucky’s children and hopes even more work will get done during next year’s session of the General Assembly.
Tilley, who also serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says he’s encouraged by the Governor’s willingness to make Kentucky an more forthcoming state when it comes to cases of children who die from alleged neglect or abuse, such as the local cases of 9-year old Amy Dye and 3-year old Alayna Adair.
“Well, I was pleased to see that he made the statement that transparency will be the rule because I do think a move toward greater transparency is what we’ve been trying to accomplish in the legislature for some time,” he said. “I also think he recognized that not every case and not every piece of information needs to be made public”
Even so, Representative Tilley says he would encourage the Governor to go a little further—to allow other qualified eyes to look into a case before the worst could possibly happen.
“A greater number of people who can look into a case as it’s proceeding—not just social workers but prosecutors and judges. I think to give them a look into a case provides another layer of protection for the children.”
Tilley says he believes there is bi-partisan support across Kentucky for reforms, which he believes should include finding a way to lessen the workload on state social workers, who have caseloads well above what is recommended.
“We’re going to have to find a way to lessen the caseload per worker so they can actually concentrate on these cases. These are serious, serious matters with children’s lives at stake and the stability of families at stake so there’s got to be a better way to do this.”
Representative Tilley says he believes issues such as these are proof that “across the board” budget cuts can not work in Kentucky and that the General Assembly will have to make the tough decisions on where to and where not to spend money in the upcoming session. He would like to see new social workers hired to lessen the load, but isn’t sure that will be possible.