Frankfort, KY—Representative Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) has pre-filed legislation to protect children from convicted child abusers that may be serving as babysitters or child caregivers. The bill titled, “Sophie’s Law”, would require the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to keep and make public a central electronic registry of individuals convicted of child abuse or neglect. Indiana passed a similar law early this year and if passed, Kentucky would become the second state in the nation to enact such legislation.
“Sophie’s Law” is named after a Bellevue Kentucky child who was hospitalized in 2014 due to injuries suffered at the hands of a private babysitter. Sophie’s mother, Jennifer Diaz, contacted Rep. Dennis Keene after going through to court process and wanting to help other parents avoid the trauma that Sophie and her family went through. Currently two years old, Sophie was just four months old at the time of the abuse.
“If there is a way to prevent another child from going through the trauma of abuse, we must do everything we can to prevent that from happening,” said Sophie’s mother, Jennifer Diaz. “My baby was so tiny and helpless when we put her babysitting care in the hands of someone we trusted; never knowing she would be abused. Luckily my child recovered; some other children have not. Thank you to Representative Keene for making this child abuse registry available to parents and the public.”
The babysitter in Sophie’s case was convicted of criminal abuse in the first degree and served three months in jail and is currently on probation.
Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services voluntarily operates, through administrative regulations, a current central registry of individuals found to have a substantiated case of child abuse and neglect. The registry is searchable by submitting an open records request to the Cabinet.
“Sophie’s Law will put a central child abuse and neglect registry into statute, which will require that the Cabinet publish a central registry on its website that will be searchable and available to parents and to the public,” said Representative Dennis Keene. “I am making this legislation a top priority in the upcoming session of the General Assembly and I anticipate that we will have widespread, bipartisan support for passage of the bill.”
Representative Dennis Keene has served the citizens of the 67th District since 2005 and is the chairman of the House Licensing and Occupations Committee, Vice Chairman of Economic Development, Vice Chairman on the Budget Subcommittee on Transportation and a member of the Banking & Insurance Committee. Keene is a small business owner and an economic development advisor for EGC Construction. For more information, visit: www.DennisKeene.com.