Kentucky opens some child protection cases to public

Kentucky opens some child protection cases to public
The decision went into effect on Monday as a part of a new program. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – For the first time in Kentucky, family court in six counties, including Jefferson, are allowing the public inside proceedings.

The decision went into effect on Monday as a part of a new program. 

The decision has been debated for years, but every family court judge in Jefferson County supports it.

Child protection cases are normally closed due to confidentiality, but the pilot program is looking at whether it's beneficial to open some cases so the public can see what goes on beyond the courtroom doors.

Family court deals with many issues including child abuse and the termination of parental rights. That's what Jefferson County family court judges want people to see.

The practice is common in other jurisdictions around the country.

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The 2016, the General Assembly passed legislation asking the Supreme Court to institute a pilot study in open courts that will last through 2021.

Resistance to the pilot program has stemmed from concerns over maintaining the privacy of children. However, under the new ruling, the public and the press are banned from reporting on the cases.

No private information is the leave the room.

"The community will get a real understanding what we do," Chief Judge Tara Hagerty said. "What kind of resources we need to offer to the parents to reunify with children, or stay with children when there are neglect or abuse issues."

Judges have the ability to close proceedings, especially if they believe it is in the best interest of the child.

A survey will be administered to document the effectiveness of the program.

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