Program Review and Investigations Committee




<MeetMDY1> November 9, 2006


The<MeetNo2> Program Review and Investigations Committee met on<Day> Thursday,<MeetMDY2> November 9, 2006, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, in<Room> Room 169 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Tommy Thompson, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.


Present were:


Members:<Members> Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Tommy Thompson, Co-Chair; Senators Charlie Borders, Brett Guthrie, Vernie McGaha, R J Palmer II, Joey Pendleton, Dan Seum, and Katie Stine; Representatives Adrian K Arnold, Sheldon E Baugh, Dwight D Butler, Charlie Hoffman, Ruth Ann Palumbo, and Arnold Simpson.


Guests:  Tom Emberton Jr., Commissioner, Department for Community Based Services and Jim Grace, Assistant Director of Protection and Permanency, Cabinet for Health and Family Services; Patrick Yewell, General Manager, Department of Juvenile Services, Administrative Office of the Courts; and David Rickert, National Institute of Children.


LRC Staff:  Greg Hager, Committee Staff Administrator; Rick Graycarek; Jim Guinn; Christopher Hall; Margaret Hurst; Van Knowles; Perry Papka; Rkia Rhib; Deepsi Sigdel; Cindy Upton; Tanlee Wasson; and Jennifer Beeler, Committee Assistant; Program Review and Investigations Committee.


Minutes of the October 12, 2006 meeting were approved, without objection, upon motion made by Sen. Pendleton and seconded by Sen. Palmer.

Van Knowles, Program Review Staff, presented the report Kentucky’s Foster Care System Is Improving, but Challenges Remain.

Mr. Knowles stated that Kentucky has shown improvement on several statistical measures.  Children who enter foster care are spending less time there and those who return to their families are less likely to come back into care.  He said that children in foster care are less likely to change foster homes and more children who cannot return home are adopted.  He said the decision about permanency is being made in a timelier manner.  He stated that the interviewed participants in foster care impressed staff with their commitment, dedication, and passion about the needs of children.  He explained that DCBS has met its budgetary and caseload challenges creatively so far, but challenges continue and solutions will become more difficult.  He said that the court system’s Court Improvement Project focuses on child maltreatment and dependency cases.  Performance of the courts has improved and the court system continues to make improvements.

Mr. Knowles stated that the report explained the basic legal, financial, workforce, and practice framework of foster care, and explained the central role of the Department for Community Based Services and the courts.  He said that staff identified many areas of concern and made formal recommendations for some of them.

He said that staff listed 29 topics related to foster care that deserve further study.  He stated that the Statewide Strategic Planning Committee for Children in Placement seems ideally suited to address several of these topics.

Mr. Knowles said that this committee, established by statute in 1998, was mandated to develop a strategic plan for services for children in placement and their families.  It was authorized to issue regulations regarding the development of new facilities and services.  He stated that staff was unable to find firm evidence that the committee has met since 1999.

Recommendation 1.1 asks DCBS to reconvene and support the committee and to include the committee in its budget request.  It asks the committee to fulfill its mandates, to consider using its regulatory authority, and to consider ways to address the issues raised in this study.

Mr. Knowles stated that agencies and individuals involved in foster care include DCBS, courts, schools, Medicaid, foster parents, mental health centers, citizen foster care review, county attorneys, Personnel Cabinet, and private foster care agencies.

Mr. Knowles stated that as of August 2006, staff estimated there were 19,600 children receiving these services.  Of these, around 12,200 were not in state custody and were living primarily at home or with relatives.  He explained that 7,412 children were listed as in state custody.  Of these, about 4,600 were in state or private foster homes. 

He explained that the total number of children in care has increased since January 2004, but the increase has not been dramatic.  He said that relatively slow growth in the foster care population might be explained by greater numbers of children in the custody of relatives.

Mr. Knowles stated that relatives care for maltreated children under a variety of circumstances.  He said that sometimes the children remain in the custody of the parents and are informally placed with relatives.  Most of the time, the relatives are given temporary custody.  Children in these situations are not counted as being in foster care.  Anecdotal evidence indicated that more relatives are obtaining custody now than in the past.  He explained that some children in state custody also are placed with relatives, who do not receive foster care reimbursement.  Relatives in both custody situations may receive payments from the Kinship Care Program.

Mr. Knowles stated that most relatives caring for maltreated children probably participate in the Kinship Care Program, which provides $300 monthly per child–about half the regular foster care reimbursement.  He said laws and regulations regarding care by relatives are inadequate.  The cabinet provides services to the birth families and children, but does not appear to be legally required to do so.  He said there appears to be no legal requirement to conduct background checks and home studies.  He explained the legal gaps appear most serious for relatives who are not part of the Kinship Care Program.

Recommendation 1.3 addresses background checks and home studies for relative caregivers and services to the children and birth families.  It asks the cabinet to clarify its regulations and standards of practice.  The General Assembly also may wish to address these issues.

Mr. Knowles stated that the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 set the stage for federal guidelines in foster care.  That Act and the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 established rules and targets that states must meet in order to receive federal funding or avoid penalties.  He stated that the Adoption and Safe Families Act created the Child and Family Services Review process.  As part of the first round of reviews, Kentucky’s review occurred in 2003.  Kentucky met 6 of 14 targets, a similar performance to surrounding states.  All states had the opportunity to conduct a Program Improvement Plan to correct problems with the system and avoid potential penalties of more than $1 million per year.  Kentucky’s plan ended in 2005 with one target still unmet, which  Kentucky has until March 2007 to meet and have all penalties waived.  He stated that Kentucky’s next review will occur in 2008 or later. 

Mr. Knowles stated that the Government Accountability Office and other organizations have criticized the federal reviews.  Some of these criticisms also apply to the reviews conducted by the Council on Accreditation.  He said that the federal reviews are based on too few cases to provide statistically valid estimates.  He stated that both federal and accreditation reviews allow the state to pre-select some or all of the cases to be reviewed.  Both federal and accreditation review site visits are announced in advance.  As a result, states spend large amounts of staff time preparing for the reviews.  Another major accrediting agency, the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, has adopted random unannounced reviews.

Recommendation 2.2 is that the General Assembly may wish to consider passing a resolution to encourage random unannounced reviews and to request the National Conference of State Legislatures to promote that procedure.  The recommendation also asks the cabinet to consider working through appropriate national organizations to do the same.

Mr. Knowles stated that the cabinet works closely with the courts.  Judges make the actual determinations of whether maltreatment or dependency has occurred.  Judges decide who will have custody.  They review case plans and approve permanency plans.  Judges make the decision whether to terminate parental rights. He said Citizen Foster Care Review Boards review each foster care case every 6 months and advise the judge on the progress of the case.  He stated that guardians ad litem are attorneys appointed to represent the best interests of each child.  He explained that if Court Appointed Special Advocates are available, they get to know the child and meet with others involved in the case and provide information to the court.  He said county attorneys represent the Commonwealth in child maltreatment and dependency cases.  They do not represent the cabinet and can make independent decisions about how to proceed.

He explained that there are several federal and state funding streams that contribute to foster care.  The federal funds have complex eligibility requirements and often require the cabinet to reassess each child’s eligibility on a monthly basis.  He said the study found that the cabinet has done a good job of maximizing federal and other funding sources.  Cuts in federal funding may occur and may place significant strain on the cabinet’s budget.  He said that by comparison with foster care, there is little funding for prevention, for working with a family after reunification or adoption, or for assisting youth who age out of foster care.  He explained other state and local agencies, such as Medicaid and the schools, provide services to foster children.  Private foster care agencies and individuals contribute time, services, and millions of dollars to the foster care system.

Mr. Knowles stated that the cabinet’s foster care workforce needs attention.  He said that the number of cases has increased while the cabinet has had to shift positions from other areas in order to maintain staffing in child protection, including foster care.  He explained that Program Review interviews and survey results indicated that workforce morale is low and job stress is high.  Turnover is an issue and may be increasing, but the cabinet’s innovative recruitment programs have shown good results.  He said the disciplinary process is cumbersome and slow.  Many supervisors surveyed by Program Review staff found it ineffective.  The hiring process remains a serious problem.  It can take several months to fill a vacancy.  The new caseworker has to undertake about six months of training.  There is no additional probationary period after training.

Recommendation 4.4 asks the cabinet to develop a proposal that minimizes the time to fill vacancies.  Program Review staff urge the cabinet to use its own hiring pilot or a similar program as a model.

Mr. Knowles stated that in February 2006, DCBS announced a reorganization plan designed to add 154 frontline child protection positions.  The final plan creates few or no new caseworker positions.  He explained many DCBS field staff have a negative perception of the reorganization, both the original plan and the current structure.  He said this study found that there was insufficient involvement of field staff in the planning process.  The Program Review survey indicated that many field staff felt disconnected from the central office.

Recommendation 4.5 asks the cabinet to build and maintain stronger connections between the central office and field staff.

Mr. Knowles said caseload and workload not only affect caseworker morale and job stress, they are crucial to the safety of children.  He stated that current national standards for caseload specify a maximum number of children or cases per worker.  Earlier standards, including the one in Kentucky statute, used average caseloads.  A caseload cap better ensures that all caseworkers have the time to devote to all their cases.  He said determining actual workload is difficult.  Caseworkers often carry a variety of case types that require different amounts of work.  He explained that the cabinet should take steps to determine how much work each case represents and should request funding for the number of positions necessary to meet caseload standards.

Recommendation 4.7 asks the cabinet to use a realistic workload for caseworkers based on national standards and to request the positions necessary to maintain those standards.  The General Assembly may wish to amend KRS 199.461 to provide guidance to the cabinet on this issue.

He stated the number of foster children has increased faster than the number of foster homes.  Although there are enough foster homes for young children, there are serious shortages for older children, sibling groups, and medically fragile children.  He said the lack of appropriate homes can lead to more use of private therapeutic foster homes or residential care, and more placement disruptions.

Mr. Knowles stated that Kentucky’s reimbursement rate for state resource homes is about seventh in the nation.  He said private foster care homes mostly perform therapeutic services and receive about twice the regular resource home rate.  Private foster home reimbursement is set by the private agencies and varies from one agency to another.  He said rates to resource homes have not increased for several years but will increase by $3 in July 2007.  As of 2005, a $4.43 per day increase would be required to meet the USDA cost for the urban South.

He explained that foster parents receive extensive training prior to being certified.    He said this study found that the cabinet’s regulations require less training for private therapeutic foster parents,  who provide the most advanced care.  Foster children need parenting that is different from what most parents are used to providing.  Putting the training into practice can be a challenge by itself.

Mr. Knowles stated that there are no direct measures of quality of care in foster homes.  This study reported opinions expressed in surveys of foster youth and DCBS field staff.  He said that most foster parents received praise from foster youth and caseworkers.  Concerns were raised about some foster parents.  Maltreatment by foster parents is lower than maltreatment of Kentucky children overall.  The foster care maltreatment rate has been improving.

He said the preferred outcome of foster care is reunification when it is safe and in the best interests of the child.  To achieve reunification, birth parents must complete a case plan to address the problems that led to removal.  Usually, the birth parents must obtain services to assist them, such as substance abuse treatment, drug testing, and parenting classes.  He said many foster children require special medical, mental health, or educational services.  He explained that most of the services are provided by outside agencies and “community partners.”  Based on a survey of caseworkers and supervisors, the availability of some services in some areas appears to be limited, and the quality of some services in some areas appears to be less than desirable.  He said while the cabinet pays for some of the services, either through DCBS or Medicaid, many services for birth families may require the family to pay out of pocket.

Mr. Knowles explained that the study examined some case plans.  The typical case plan’s objectives appear to be vague and unmeasureable.  It is difficult to determine whether the objectives have been met.  He said judges use case plans when they order services for the birth family.  A study of the court system provided some evidence that some judges issue orders based on the cabinet’s case plan without considering whether they are appropriate.  He said caseworkers’ practice is crucial to the progress of the birth family and foster children.  Although this study was unable to evaluate the quality of casework, field staff generally appeared to be dedicated and passionate.  He explained that the high turnover rate did raise concerns that newer workers may be less efficient and have poorer decision-making skills.

Mr. Knowles explained that Kentucky statute calls on the cabinet and the courts to identify children who are in care because they need extraordinary services.  It appears that the law does not require the cabinet or the courts to track or report on such children.  Neither the cabinet nor the courts track such children.  Recommendation 1.2 suggests that the General Assembly may wish to clarify whether the cabinet and the courts should track and report on children needing extraordinary services.

Recommendation 2.1 asks the cabinet to provide all the required reports, but also to consider whether federal reports might be substituted for some of the Kentucky reports.

Mr. Knowles stated that the cabinet developed a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process of case reviews to meet Council on Accreditation standards.  The CQI was used to monitor the progress of the Program Improvement Plan.  This study found that the CQI serves a valuable function to measure statewide conformity with federal targets and best practice standards.  Recommendation 2.3 asks the cabinet to continue to use the CQI for this purpose but not to use the information for employee performance evaluations.

He said that this study found several problems with the department’s information system, TWIST.  While TWIST is being modernized, Recommendation 2.4 asks the department to address the concerns listed in the report.  The recommendation asks for a progress report in December 2007.

Recommendations 4.1 and 4.2 ask the cabinet to expand successful caseworker recruitment and retention programs and to implement and evaluate supervisory training courses.

Mr. Knowles explained that based on interviews and survey results, the study found the cabinet’s disciplinary process could be improved.  Recommendation 4.3 asks the cabinet to do so.

Recommendation 4.6 asks the cabinet to do a thorough job of conducting and analyzing exit interviews when field staff resign or retire.  It also asks the cabinet to develop a clear career ladder for the advancement and retention of experienced staff.

Recommendation 5.1 asks the cabinet to examine the effectiveness of its foster parent recruitment strategies and those of private foster care agencies and use the information to target its recruitment efforts as effectively as possible.

Mr. Knowles stated that the cabinet’s information systems are not able to provide reliable and timely tracking of the number of types of foster homes.  Recommendation 5.2 asks the cabinet to develop a method of doing so.

Recommendation 5.3 asks the cabinet to expand its efforts to determine the quality of state and private foster homes and the therapeutic services provided by the staff of private foster care agencies.

Mr. Knowles said that the statute that defines the process for setting rates for private residential care agencies does not apply to private foster care agencies.  Recommendation 5.4 suggests that the General Assembly may wish to create a rate-setting process for private foster care.

Recommendation 5.5 asks the cabinet to modify its regulations to require an appropriate amount of training for private foster parents.

Recommendation 5.6 asks the cabinet to adopt a case planning tool that makes case plan objectives clear and measurable and provides clear documentation of the progress on each objective.

Mr. Knowles said that the success of foster care depends on many dedicated agencies and individuals working together for the safety and best interests of children.  A dynamic statewide strategic planning committee to coordinate agencies and services would be helpful.  He said improvements have been made, but serious concerns persist.  All areas of child protection and foster care would benefit from further study. 

Rep. Baugh asked if the cabinet’s method of tracking is not reliable or timely.

Mr. Knowles stated that it is neither timely or reliable.  He said part of being timely is getting the data entered into the data system as soon as the resource homes are certified.  He said the private foster homes are a different problem in that the information has to go from the private agencies through the Children’s Review Program to the cabinet.  

Rep. Baugh asked if they were not able to determine the number of foster homes, are there children being lost.

Mr. Knowles stated that there is not a loss of children, but the problem is identifying how many available foster homes there are at any given time.

Rep. Butler asked about the increase to keep up with inflation.

Mr. Knowles said that the $4.43 goal was based on the 2005 USDA cost of raising a child in the urban South.  In the report, staff mentioned a number of issues regarding how it is decided to set a rate.

Rep. Butler asked when was the last increase.

Mr. Knowles stated it was 2000.

Rep. Butler asked if there was an indication that private care is increasing compared to state foster homes.

Mr. Knowles stated that staff did not analyze this. 

Rep. Thompson asked what the federal issue was that Kentucky has until March 2007 to resolve.

Mr. Knowles stated that it is the safety outcome, in which the two factors are the timeliness of child abuse investigations and maltreatment while in care.

Sen. Harris asked how many children there are in foster care.

Mr. Knowles stated that there are about 4,600 in foster homes, 7,412 at the beginning of August were classified as being in state custody, and 577 whose location was not known or not specified in the system at that time.  The remainder were in residential care or staying with relatives.

Sen. Harris asked how many foster homes there are and whether some homes have more than one child.

Mr. Knowles stated that some of the homes have more than one child.  According to the latest available data there were 2,300 state resource homes; the number of private foster care homes was not available.  He said he would try to get this information.

Sen. McGaha noted that the strategic planning committee, has the authority to do is promulgate regulations.  He asked if there other nonlegislative committees have such authority.

Mr. Knowles stated that this committee consists largely of representatives of executive agencies, but that he was unaware whether other nonlegislative committees have authority to promulgate regulations or not.

Sen. Harris noted that proposed regulations would still come before the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee.

Sen. McGaha said that they would follow the normal channels, but still have the power to promulgate regulations.

Mr. Emberton stated that there are about 7,000 children in out-of-home care, an increase of about 500 children from December 2005.  He stated that 80 percent of those children are there because of substance abuse in the home.  He stated that over the past year, modernizing DCBS has consisted of not only technology, but modern business practices and looking at streamlining the management structure.

He said that as of September 16, they moved from 16 regions to 9 regions, which will add 100 additional field staff to the front line, 50  in family support and 50 in protection and permanency.  He stated they are becoming more consistent as they look at best practices.  They are looking at what is working in some regions and incorporating that throughout the state.  He said that in the western part of the state, there were examples of caseloads of about 13 or 14.  In some counties in the northeast part of Kentucky, caseloads were 25 to 27, which is too high.  Through the realignment, the goal is to create greater consistency by bringing additional staff to the front line with greater supervision.  He said that they recently restructured their training program.  The training branch was strengthened.  He said there are four areas of focus: leadership, supervision, substance abuse, and safety.  TWIST 2 will be running in 2008.  He explained that they have begun the deployment of tool kits for their caseworkers: laptops, cell phones, and digital cameras.

Rep. Hoffman asked how reviews are being handled now and what would be the positives and negatives to implementing unannounced reviews.

Mr. Emberton stated that there are multiple reviews in the foster care program.  Kentucky is one of only two states to have chosen to go through an accreditation process. That process is announced.

Mr. Grace stated that the federal reviews required through HHS were set up by Congress and the federal code.  Making changes to those expectations would be complex. 

Sen. Seum asked how the cabinet is addressing the turnover rate among staff.

Mr. Emberton stated that the CQI is an important tool that they utilize.  They have been gathering data identifying where the turnover occurs so they can make plans to address it.  He stated they recently announced some programs.  They have reinstituted the ACE awards, recognizing educational achievements of their staff.  He stated there is an 80 percent retention rate.

Sen. Seum asked how salaries in Kentucky compare to other states.

Mr. Emberton stated that the starting salary is about $31,000 and the average salary is about $37,000 or $38,000 in Kentucky.

Sen. Seum asked how caseloads compare to other states.

Mr. Emberton stated that the average caseload statewide is about 19.5 per staff member; the goal is 17.  The Council on Accreditation’s recommendation is 17.  Through the realignment, they are hoping to be near 18. 

Mr. Grace stated that there is a distinction between workload and caseload.  Staff do not just deal with one type of work when they are doing their jobs, so measuring a caseload is challenging.

Rep. Butler asked about the 500 child increase in foster care from a year ago.

Mr. Emberton stated that in December of 2005 they had about 6,500 children in out of home care, today they have approximately 7,000.

Rep. Butler asked, given the increase of 500 children in out-of-home care, what is being done to recruit new foster parents.

Mr. Emberton stated that they work with various communities to gain awareness of the need.  November is Adoption Awareness Month, so several activities are planned.

Rep. Butler asked what kind of transition programs are in place after children turn 18.

Mr. Emberton stated that is a problem they are working on.  He stated they do offer additional services in Kentucky that are not seen in other states.

Mr. Grace stated that there is additional federal funding for transitional assistance for youth, especially for housing and education.

Rep. Butler asked if there were background checks for family members that take in children.

Mr. Emberton stated that this is something that should be looked at, but there would be barriers that should be considered, such as where the children would be placed while the background check is being done. 

Rep. Butler stated that is a good recommendation because a child should not be put into a situation that was possibly worse.

Sen. Harris asked for an explanation of the 577 children classified as unknown status.

Mr. Grace stated that there are several limitations to their existing IT system, which would account for some of the issues.  There are different categories: DCBS foster home, private home, residential placement, and relative placement.  To get that number correctly represented is a problem with data entry, not keeping up with the children themselves.

Rep. Thompson asked how they were planning on addressing some of the issues brought up in the presentation, such as number of cases increasing faster than the number of caseworkers, and how the cabinet has fewer positions overall and has shifted positions to child protection.

Sen. Harris asked how many caseworkers they have.

Mr. Emberton stated that last year there were 61,000 referrals of child abuse or child neglect, an increase of 14,000 from the previous year.  He said that to manage that growth they have to become more efficient and manage within the budget.  He said the opportunity to create additional positions is somewhat difficult, but some positions have been shifted from the central office.  He explained that with a staff of 5,000 DCBS is the largest department in state government.  There have been recent efforts to improve communication.  They initiated a newsletter primarily for DCBS staff.

Sen. McGaha asked about the percentage of children that are in homes because of substance abuse.

Mr. Emberton stated that there are 8 out of 10 children in homes because of substance abuse.  He said 75 percent of child fatalities that have been investigated are a result of substance abuse, more than 50 percent of their investigations are centered around this type of abuse.  He said they have begun addressing this issue as one of their prevention programs.

Sen. McGaha asked if the broad category of substance abuse could be broken down into any specific parts.

Mr. Emberton stated that it depends on the county.

Sen. McGaha asked where the numbers for each district would be located.

Mr. Emberton stated that within the cabinet they are beginning a collaborative effort to get that information.

Mr. Yewell stated that adoptive children can grow up to be doctors, lawyers, judges, or legislators, but they also fill the streets as homeless and the mental health facilities and the jails.  He summarized relevant federal and state legislation from the 1960s to the 1990s.   In Kentucky in the 1990s, family courts began as a pilot.  He said today there has been many advancements from the expansions of family court, expansions of guardians ad litem (GAL) training, expansions of interested party review for the citizen-foster care review boards, the development of best practice manuals and procedures and improved data systems, and training in child protection and child development in all levels of the court.  He stated that training of GALs has occurred since 2001 by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), which trained 3,000 attorneys at all levels and all levels of judges, without using any state funding. As of 2002, courts could identify in any child’s file if there were extraordinary services needed.  He explained this has been extremely useful.  He said that the report mentioned 48 days as the average time from adjudication to disposition, which was not within the legal time frame.  He said that 48 days was the average time from removal to disposition.  He noted that the report said involuntary termination of parental rights could only be appealed by the parents, but case law and statute allows any party, such as GALs or the cabinet, to appeal such an order.   

Sen. Pendleton asked how the truancy issue is being handled.

Mr. Yewell stated that there was concern because there were only about 10 truancy courts in the state.  On December 2005, his office began a truancy diversion program and worked with judges across the state.  He said since then there have been 63 truancy diversion programs across the state.  In particular counties, truancy rates are declining and grades and behavior are improving.

Rep. Hoffman asked how the reviews are being handled now and what would be the positives and negatives to implementing unannounced reviews.

Mr. Yewell said that he would like to see unannounced reviews.

Mr. Rickert stated that there have been three major commissions that looked at foster care.  He said if there is one thing to be done, it would be to get the staff numbers up.  There is no substitute for the face to face contact between the social worker and family member or foster parent.  He said that there are several people on different committees that will be hearing more about how the fees for GALs are low.  He said that a court environment in which judges will listen to GALs is needed as well; in many cases, judges are going through proceedings so fast that the GAL does not have an opportunity to raise any objections.  He said that many of the GALs do not interview the child, family or look at the case before they go to court.  He said that there needs to be an accountability system for GALs.

Rep. Simpson asked would it not be the judicial branch’s duty to bring those issues to legislators’ attention.

Mr. Rickert stated that funding for GALs is in the Finance and Administration Cabinet’s budget.

Rep. Simpson stated that if there was a problem, Chief Justice Lambert would bring it to the attention of the legislature.  He said that based on his experience as a guardian ad litem, he could not file a report without interviewing the child and parent.  He said that being a GAL is not about pay, but about protecting a child that would not otherwise be protected.

Mr. Rickert stated that Northern Kentucky and Jefferson County have great GAL systems, but this is not necessarily true for the rest of the state.  He said one of the consistent observations is that the GAL was not very active.

Rep. Simpson stated that judges in Northern Kentucky realize the awesome responsibilities of GALs.  If an individual was not doing the basic work, the judge has to approve the fee.  If there is a lack of diligence, the judge will not approve the fee.  He stated that if there are members of the bar that are not doing the job that should be done, it is up to the court not to appoint those individuals.

The report Kentucky’s Foster Care System Is Improving, But Challenges Remain was adopted upon motion by Sen. Pendleton and seconded by Rep. Arnold, without objection by roll call vote.

The report Highly Skilled Educator Program was adopted upon motion by Rep. Simpson and seconded by Rep. Hoffman, without objection by roll call vote.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:50.