Earlier this afternoon, I attended the Dependency Neglect and Abuse Subcommittee Meeting for Family Court. Part of the point of the meeting is to share information between the Bench, Bar and Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).
Here in Louisville, CHFS is responsible for the Child Abuse Hotline. When a report is made about Child Abuse, CHFS takes the call and starts the Court and LEO intervention.
The Subcommittee was notified that the average wait time on a call to the Child Abuse Hotline is thirty (30) minutes. During regular business hours, wait times can be as high as two (2) hours (I fear that there are horror stories out there of much longer wait times).
A reasonable person would 1) find unconscionable a delay of even thirty (30) minutes to get help in a situation where a child is being abused and 2) start asking “Why?”. Fortunately, the professional staff from CHFS was there to answer questions.
Within the last two (2) weeks, the Cabinet Secretary and Deputies appeared to testify before the General Assembly on their budget for the next fiscal year. They anticipate a nine percent (9%) decrease in funding this year and for the next fiscal year. The Child Abuse Hotline is only fifty percent (50%) staffed under the budget this year. How long will the delays be when funding drops?
There is one great shining hope in all of this: Judge Tim Feeley. Judge Feeley left the Oldham Circuit Court, Family Division, Bench to go to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services as a Deputy Secretary. Through February, he was on the front line of delivery of essential services to the public. I hope that he can advocate on behalf of us, the unelected citizens, to make sure that funding is maintained for these essential services.
As I have said before, please watch, be informed, and contact your Representatives to make sure that our Government continues to fulfill its mission to serve the citizens. Elimination of essential services by defunding is not an acceptable answer.