Foster care system tweaks pass Kentucky House

RANKFORT—A bill that would provide more confidentiality to foster parents involved in specific parental rights’ cases has passed the Kentucky House.

House Bill 167, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore David Meade, R-Stanford, would allow foster parents to use initials, instead of their names, when participating in involuntary termination of parental rights’ cases, while also allowing—instead of requiring—the foster parent to be a party to such cases. Foster parents are currently required to participate in such actions under 2019 HB 446, which became law last year.

Meade said the need for improved confidentiality of foster parents’ identifying information in such actions became evident last year after some concerns were raised about how that information is handled.

“You can imagine that created some angst for foster parents and, in very rare situations, could potentially put them in a dangerous situation,” said Meade. “So…we decided that we’re going to make it very clear what our intent was last year.”

An amendment to the bill filed by Rep. Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, and adopted by the House would give some leeway to how foster parents may be served legal notice in such actions. Meade thanked Hoover for his work on HB 167, and for his support for improving Kentucky’s foster care system dating back to then-Speaker Hoover’s creation of a House Adoption Work Group in 2017.

The work of that group led to the passage of major changes in the state’s adoption and foster care system with the passage 2018 HB 1, followed by passage of HB 446 and other measures in 2019.

“The only way we were able to start down this path was because (Hoover) issued that order to start the work group on adoption and foster care,” said Meade.

HB 167 passed the House by a vote of 92-0. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.