KY: Shaken Baby SyndromePage 5 of 13

3. Kentucky Law on Child Abuse

The State of Kentucky requires Kentucky childcare professionals, and others who have contact with infants and toddlers, to complete training on the recognition and prevention of pediatric traumatic head injuries and shaken baby syndrome (KY House Bill 285). Those who must complete this training include:

  • Law enforcement students
  • Kentucky schools
  • Child protection staff
  • Inmates
  • Foster parents
  • Childcare center employees and owners
  • Family childcare providers
  • The HANDS program
  • Urgent care facilities employees
  • First responders, EMTs, and paramedics
  • Social workers, physician assistants, and nurses

Abuse or Neglect in Kentucky Law

[From Kentucky Rev. Stat. §600.020]

In Kentucky law, “abused or neglected child” means a child whose health or welfare is harmed—or threatened with harm—when his or her parent, guardian, or other person exercising custodial control or supervision:

  • Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or emotional injury by other than accidental means.
  • Creates or allows to be created a risk of physical or emotional injury to the child by other than accidental means.
  • Engages in a pattern of conduct that renders the parent incapable of caring for the immediate and ongoing needs of the child, including, but not limited to, parental incapacity due to alcohol and other drug abuse.
  • Continuously or repeatedly fails or refuses to provide essential parental care and protection for the child, considering the age of the child.
  • Does not provide the child with adequate care, supervision, food, clothing, shelter, education, or medical care necessary for the child’s well-being.
  • Fails to make sufficient progress toward identified goals as set forth in the court-approved case plan to allow for the safe return of the child to the parent that results in the child remaining committed to the Cabinet and remaining in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.

Physical Injury in Kentucky Law

[From Kentucky Rev. Stat. §600.020]

In Kentucky law, “physical injury” means substantial physical pain or any impairment of physical condition.

“Serious physical injury” means physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or causes serious and prolonged disfigurement, prolonged impairment of health, or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. Persons responsible for the child include:

  • A parent who is the biological or adoptive mother or father of a child
  • A person exercising custodial control and supervision or an agency that has assumed the role and responsibility of a parent or guardian for the child but does not necessarily have legal custody of the child

Exception: A parent or other person exercising custodial control or supervision of the child who is legitimately practicing his or her religious beliefs shall not be considered a negligent parent because of failure to provide specified medical treatment for a child for that reason alone. This exception shall not preclude a court from ordering necessary medical services for a child.

Additional Legislation: Kentucky House Bill 290

To further strengthen Kentucky’s overall response to pediatric abusive head trauma, on March 20, 2013 Kentucky’s governor signed into law House Bill 290, which established an independent review panel to investigate cases of child deaths and near-fatal injuries. The bill places in statute the governor’s initiative to ensure that child protection agencies meet the policies and standards expected in cases of child abuse and neglect (, 2013).

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