The “Boni Bill” was signed into law. It provides for funding of an optimistic estimate of 60 to 80 new workers. Kentucky has 120 counties. Lexington and Louisville will get more than one each for certain. It also provides for increased security. Unfortunately, these measures do not address the actual safety concerns. The bill’s namesake was killed away from the office in a clients home taking the child to a visit with parents. Home visits with children will continue to need to occur if we want to reunite children and parents. The security measures, by and large, protect workers at their offices where the risk is lowest.
The criminal records checks are helpful in a limited way. The Cabinet was always able to run these checks and the existence of a criminal records, including violence offenses has always been common. Often, prior to an initial home visit, workers do not have sufficient information to even get an accurate check. Even with accurate information – what is the worker to do when they are mandated to initiate their investigation within a fixed period of time. The higher the risk of the allegation, the sooner the response has to be. Police accompanying workers on a frequent basis is likely to meet with resistance since police resources are also limited.
Absolute safety can never be assured. However, the best answer is to adequately staff the Cabinet so that the workers have time to be careful, time to team partner up on high risk situations, and time to be thorough. The Boni Bill is a step in the right direction. It is like taking your money out from your mattress and putting it into a savings account. At least you are now earning some interest, but with inflation, you are still losing ground. Even with 60 to 80 new workers, the Cabinet is still losing ground to Kentucky’s growing population and increasing poverty.