Child Protection Laws in Kentucky

By Felicia Dye

children image by Mat Hayward from

In Kentucky, there are many laws that are designed to protect children. These laws include protection against mistreatment from parents and state authorities. The Department of Community Based Services (DCBS) a special division of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) is the agency responsible for child protective services in Kentucky.

Suspected Child Abuse

In Kentucky, instances of child abuse or alleged child abuse are investigated by the DCBS. The law grants DCBS workers the authority to interview children who are suspected victims of child abuse without the consent or presence of their parents.

If a medical professional in Kentucky suspects child abuse, she can hold the child against the will of the parents. If she does so, she must request an emergency custody order (ECO) within three days. Police can remove a child from her home if they believe the child is in imminent danger. A child can also be removed from a dangerous home by court order. Once the child is removed, the circuit court can terminate all parental rights and place the child in foster care if there are sufficient grounds for doing so. A social worker does not have the authority to remove a child from his home.

Termination of Rights

In Kentucky, a court does not always need proof that a child is abused or neglected to separate him from his parents. A court can terminate a person's parental rights if he has been convicted on criminal charges of harming another child and there is reason to believe that the same could happen to his child.

Instances where a parent lacks the mental capacity to provide proper care for the child can also result in termination of parental rights. The mental health of the parent is determined by a qualified medical professional.

Protection of Delinquents

In instances of juvenile delinquency or suspected delinquency, the law in Kentucky aims to protect minors. For example, the law does not permit the state to detain minors for extended periods of time without the knowledge of their parents. The law requires that the parents be notified, or if unavailable, another responsible adult should be notified.

If a minor is taken into custody and he is not charged as an adult, the offense does not warrant prolonged detention. The child is released to a parent or other responsible adult. Any child who is 10 years old or younger, and charged with a capital offense or Class A or B felony, will be taken to a juvenile detention facility or youth alternative center only when other alternatives are unavailable.