The3rd meeting of the Subcommittee on Families and Children of the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare was held on Wednesday, September 17, 2003, at 9:00 AM, in the Board Room of the Home of the Innocents, 1100 East Market Street, Louisville, Kentucky. Senator Katie Stine, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Katie Stine, Co-Chair; Representative Tom Burch, Co-Chair; Senators Elizabeth Tori, and Johnny Ray Turner; Representatives Bob DeWeese, Mary Lou Marzian, Stephen Nunn, Jon David Reinhardt, and Kathy Stein.
Guests: Cindy Venable and Erin Beth Moran, Louisville Metro; Matt Sparks, Kentucky State Police; Shawna White, Seven Counties; Ann Flynn, and Joel Griffith, Cabinet for Families and Children; Eddie Farrey, Department of Criminal Justice Training; Betty Chady, and Diana Merzweiler, Downs Syndrome of Louisville; Evelyn Tinker, and Vivian Lothery, Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development, Sharon Bensinger, Maria Jones, and Melissa Langdon, Visually Impaired Preschool Services; Mona K. McCubbin, and Jacki Day, Louisville Deaf Oral School; Diane Lewis and Tom Young, Cabinet for Health Services Ombudsman; Judy Lambetz, Maryhurst; Debra Miller, Kentucky Youth Advocates; Cathy Allgood Murphy and Hal Stafford, AARP; Donna Brown, Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities; Gary Drelmer, LMCAP; Nancy Andrews, Nursing Home of the Bluegrass Ombudsman Agency; Louise Epperson, Seven Counties Services Volunteers; Ruby McCleskey, Family Independent Therapist; and Carol Dupin, Louisville Legal Aid.
LRC Staff: DeeAnn Mansfield, Murray Wood, and Cindy Smith.
The minutes of the August 20, 2003 meeting were approved without objection.
The first item on the agenda was testimony by the Children’s Alliance Board Member Advisory Council. Present were, Kevin Payton, President, Children’s Alliance, Jim Nesbitt, Chairman of the Board, Boy’s Haven, Amy Spears, Board Member, Home of the Innocents, and Linda Heitzman, Board Member, Brooklawn. Ms. Heitzman said the Advisory Council is comprised of a statewide network of volunteers involving hundreds of corporate and civic leaders in communities throughout Kentucky who volunteer their time because they feel a great sense of urgency for the children served the Kentucky in partnership with the agencies they represent. The Board members are making an effort to step up their advocacy on behalf of Kentucky’s abused, abandoned, and neglected kids. These children depend on the partnership between the state and private child caring agencies to give children hope for a productive future. The board members wanted the committee members to know that they will be there to help get the message out, help pass important legislation, and a budget that will positively impact the kids served. The children the board members represent are special and that is why they are focusing on this new advocacy effort. They are going to do their part to advocate on the children’s behalf.
The next item on the agenda was a discussion on elder abuse prevention and response. The first piece of the discussion related to law enforcement training. Speaking on that subject were Eddie Farrey of the Justice Cabinet and Detective Matt Sparks of the Kentucky State Police. Mr. Farrey said he is new in his position with the Law Enforcement Training Academy. He said that the training offered focuses on the awareness of the transitions people make as they get older. Beginning next year there will be a 16 hour continuing education training on elder abuse taught eight times per year. They are currently working on the curriculum.
Senator Stine asked if there is training now. Mr. Farrey said there are two hour block courses currently taught on domestic violence and one block focuses on elder abuse. Senator Stine asked what the two hour class focuses on. Mr. Farrey said the types of abuse suffered by elders.
Representative Burch asked if Mr. Farrey has seen concern for elder abuse. Mr. Farrey said officers are asking for the training, so there is concern.
Representative Nunn said in 1994 or 1996 legislation was passed that dealt with domestic violence and sexual assault training. He asked if elder abuse is a part of that or if it could be incorporated. Senator Stine said KRS 403.783, which addresses required training, may address that. Mr. Farrey said he is not aware of that statute.
Next, Detective Matt Sparks, and 18 year veteran of the Kentucky State Police said there is notification of scams and crimes against the elderly that go out to the different law enforcement in all counties. He said no training on elder abuse is currently being done, but he suggested that if law enforcement is mandated to do the training, the Administrative Office of the Courts should have the same mandate. He also indicated that additional training was needed for interviewing the disabled.
Senator Stine asked if the Northern Kentucky Association on Aging is familiar with the scam alert. Mr. Sparks said Kentucky officers are familiar with this and are working with the Cabinet for Families and Children.
Speaking on the coordination of local agencies were Marsha Hockensmith, Department of Public Advocacy; Vivian Lothery, and Evelyn Tinker, KIPDA Local Area Aging Agency; Pam Cherry, Adult Protective Services Supervisor; and Joel Griffith, Service Region Administrator. Ms. Hockensmith said her agency is involved in the abuse, neglect and exploitation issues. They are involved with individuals living at home, in a group home, or personal care home who participate in the SCL program. They have a joint investigation with protective services. She indicated that they serve individuals with disabilities of any age, not just the elderly.
Representative Reinhardt asked what that office does and for a list of all the job titles, the number of cases, and a summary of agency activities.
Senator Stine asked how Public Advocacy gets the word out that help is available. Ms. Hockensmith said there are public forums in different areas of the community. She also said the receive referrals from individuals or agencies on behalf of those who need an advocate.
Senator Tori asked how widespread nursing home abuse is. Ms. Hockensmith said Public Advocacy has represented people in nursing facilities, but they are not the front line investigator of abuse and neglect. She said she did not feel comfortable stating how widespread nursing home abuse is.
Next, Evelyn Tinker discussed her agency’s program. She said it is a state funded program for people 60 years old and older. They have a good relationship with Adult Protective Services. They also have training for case managers every year.
Senator Stine asked how pervasive elder abuse is. Ms. Tinker said much abuse and neglect goes unreported. Senator Stine asked for the number of cases there were last year. Ms. Tinker said there were between 10-15 cases, and they have about 800 clients.
Representative Reinhardt asked if her agency works with Protection and Advocacy. Ms. Lothery, also from Ms. Tinker’s agency, said no, they don’t work with Protection and Advocacy.
Representative Nunn asked about the ombudsman program and if they contract with ombudsman. Ms. Lothery said they do contract with ombudsman in the Seven Counties Region. Representative Nunn asked how many there are. Ms. Lothery said there is one volunteer in each nursing home.
Next, Ms. Cherry said KIPDA has a long history with Adult Protective Services. In ten years there has been no prosecution, but in the last three years there has been some move toward it. There have been 209 penalties.
Senator Stine asked if there is a subcommittee on elder abuse in Jefferson County. Ms. Cherry said no. Senator Stine suggested a subcommittee on elder abuse in Jefferson County. Mr. Tim Jackson, Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet for Families and Children said there are aging agencies implementing a national model protocol on elder abuse in 15 ADD Districts and these are effective groups.
Mr. Jackson said in 2002, there were 6,000 reported incidents of elder abuse or neglect and nationally it is estimated that 85% of all cases go unreported. He said that Kentucky law does not include elders as a special class of victims. If an elder is exploited, there are not more penalties as there is if something is done to a child. He said there is not sufficient infrastructure for the protection of vulnerable adults in Kentucky because of the two missing elements: (1) an effective set of federal and state laws; and (2) adequate funding. The elderly are the fastest growing population group in Kentucky. He also spoke about the Elder Justice Act that was introduced in the United States Congress, as a bipartisan bill. Mr. Jackson suggested keeping the topic of elder abuse on the agenda and hoped that in 2004 a better law could be passed to : (1) reinstitute the elder abuse commission; (2) lift the penalties from KRS 209 and place them where they could be more effective; (3) clarify public agency work; and (4) mandate that agencies coordinated efforts and share information.
Next, Nancy Andrews, from the nursing home ombudsman agency board said that current elder abuse statutes only cover the disabled elderly. And there are other gaps in the protective services system. The Cabinet has redefined their role by refusing to identify perpetrators of abuse. There are issues regarding the needs of the individual client that do not get addressed because they are not disabled.
Carol Dupan from Legal Aide, Louisville said that two-way discussions have increased between the cabinet and law enforcement.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:01 a.m.