Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Discusses Child Welfare System Prevention Initiatives

Press Release Date:  Monday, August 27, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Vikki Franklin

Governor addresses first Kentucky Summit on Children

FRANKFORT, Ky. – At the first Kentucky Summit on Children, Governor Ernie Fletcher today described shifting the focus of Kentucky’s child welfare system to emphasize prevention, in the same way the administration has transformed Kentucky Medicaid.

“Much as we have done in health care, we must change our focus from an illness model to a wellness model, focusing on what is wrong with the family as well as what is working and can be built upon to help keep families together,” Governor Fletcher told the audience of those involved with the child welfare system, including judges, attorneys, legislators, child welfare officials, court system personnel and foster parents and children. The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) led the summit, which was held in Louisville.

The key in that transformation has been data analysis to learn which programs work. Based on that data, the administration has allocated money to programs that have a proven track record, Governor Fletcher said.

An example is the Jefferson County Drug Court program, which faced closure due to a lack of funding. But data showed improved outcomes for families involved in the program, so the Governor found funds to support it, and the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) continues to work with AOC to implement additional drug courts across the state.

Governor Fletcher discussed other child welfare initiatives, including:

  • Through its START – Sobriety, Treatment and Recovery Team – program, DCBS is replicating a successful program from Cleveland that combines a social service worker and a family mentor who is a recovering addict with experience with the child welfare system. START provides intensive services and contact with families to focus on the chemical dependency of the parent and the safety of the child.
  • Collaborating with the Kentucky Youth Development Coordinating Council, DCBS is working with local communities to implement after-school programs for middle and high schools students who are at risk of alcohol and substance abuse, out-of-home care, school delinquency and teen parenthood.
  • The Race, Community and Child Welfare project targets 11 counties in which -American children are disproportionately represented in state foster care. The project takes positive steps to educate staff and communities about the problem and how to address it.
  • In the coming weeks, Medicaid will expand substance abuse treatment services to include a pilot program for mothers who were not previously covered unless they were pregnant or post-partum.
  • The Blue Ribbon Panel on Adoption, led by Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell, plans to recommend legislation that would be designed to better inform and support parents involved with the child welfare system.

“Transforming health care in Kentucky has not been an overnight process, and neither is a complete shift in thinking in our child welfare system,” Governor Fletcher said. “However, by putting money into successful programs that help keep children with their families, we’re investing our dollars in prevention. I believe that will ultimately prove to be a wise investment in Kentucky families.”