LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - For a second straight year, increasing the number of social workers in Kentucky was noted as one of Governor Andy Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth priorities.
Lawmakers in Frankfort are still crafting the budget. It’s not clear yet whether the governor’s proposal to put funds toward hiring 76 new social workers will be included.
When it comes to children who have been neglected or abused, teams of volunteers and state funded social workers are ready to stand in their corner.
“We work hand-in-hand with social workers to ensure children are being looked after, being checked on and get the resources they need to lead happy and healthy lives,” William Myers, President and CEO of CASA of the River Region said.
Meyers leads a team to ensure some of those kids, who need help the most, get a court appointed special advocate, often when they’re removed from their homes.
Myers said the possibility of adding 76 new social worker position is exciting to him.
“Unfortunately, Kentucky has the worst child abuse rate in the country,” Myers said. “So, the more social workers we have and the more resources we have means more children will get served and social workers won’t be stretched as thin throughout the state.”
Before the pandemic, in February 2020, state officials noted Kentucky social workers faced twice the national average of cases. In Louisville specifically, state officials said those numbers were almost five times higher than the level reported across the country.
That as the possibility of a spike in abuse and neglect cases looms due to what experts believe was an underreporting of those situations throughout the pandemic.
“We anticipate those numbers will go up substantially once cases can resume as normal,” Myers said.
CASA funding is also included in Beshear’s budget proposal.