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Bill to start registry of abusers OK'd

The Courier-Journal

LOUISVILLE -- Parents seeking baby sitters, school systems hiring staff and operators of summer youth camps soon will be able to learn whether someone has a history of child abuse or neglect under a far-reaching law passed Wednesday by the General Assembly.

Senate Bill 236, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, a Louisville Republican, sailed through the House on Wednesday after passing the Senate, winning unanimous votes in both chambers. It has been sent to Gov. Matt Bevin to be signed into law.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, which had worked for passage of the bill, said he's pleased to see it expand access to information now available for only a few occupations, including day care workers and people who work at private centers for abused children. "We need to ensure that wherever kids are, that is where vigilance is required," he said.

"Schools and summer camps are great places to extend the protections currently in place in such locations as child care centers."

Besides allowing parents access to such information -- which doesn't show up on a background check -- the bill would require public schools, for the first time, to check applicants for teaching or other jobs and deny employment to anyone listed on the confidential registry as having committed child abuse or neglect.

The law is voluntary for private schools.

While public school employees are subject to criminal background checks, the measure will add a level of scrutiny not previously required.

The bill also requires school employees to report to school officials any state findings of child abuse or neglect involving them and says no public school district shall employ individuals with such findings.

The checks also would apply to workers or volunteers at youth camps that receive public funds.

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