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Child abuse advocacy center president hopes additional money will help children in need

In 2021, Family & Children's Place opened 1,582 alleged child abuse cases. That’s up more than 50% from 2020 when there were 1,007 cases opened.

April 25, 2022

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s network of Children’s Advocacy Centers is earmarked to get an extra $5 million annually in the two-year budget lawmakers approved Wednesday.

These centers help child abuse victims throughout the commonwealth.

There are 15 centers across the state, including Family & Children’s Place, which is located in Louisville.

“I think this $5 million will absolutely serve more children and it will absolutely impact the number of kids being abused and will help them,” said Pam Darnall, president and CEO of Family & Children’s Place. “I don’t have any doubt that all of this means that a child’s life will be saved.”

Family & Children’s Place’s child advocacy center specializes in child sexual abuse and human trafficking.

Darnall said it’s rare for these centers to get additional government funding. In fact, in her 27 years at Family & Children’s Place, she’s never seen an increase this big.

“The average cost of a medical exam at a child advocacy center in Kentucky is $2,100,” Darnall said. “The Medicaid reimbursement rate for 20 years has been $538.”

Darnall said to make up the difference, Children’s Advocacy Centers around Kentucky have to raise funds themselves.

In 2021, Family & Children’s Place opened 1,582 alleged child abuse cases.

That’s up more than 50% from 2020 when there were 1,007 cases opened.

Darnall said child abuse cases were likely under-reported during the pandemic, so when compared to pre-pandemic levels, it’s up between 25-30%.

Everyone in Kentucky is required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. Failure to report it is a crime, so if you have any concerns, it’s best to file a report just in case.

All reports filed in “good faith” are immune from legal liability.

“Even if you’re not wholly sure and you’ve got some information about a concern, you never know,” Darnall said. “Two or three or four other people may be calling about the same child. They may have other concerns and when all of this is put together, we may be saving a child’s life.”

To file a child abuse or neglect report, click here.

The House and Senate approved the budget bill (House Bill 1) on Wednesday.

The governor has 10 days, excluding Sundays to take action on any bill he receives.

The budget bill passed with all but three members of the General Assembly in attendance voting for it.

Even if the governor does line-item vetoes of the budget bill, it’s likely the Children’s Advocacy Centers’ funding will remain because it was included in his original budget proposal.

Link to Original Story from WHAS11