08 May

As most Kentuckians know, April was Child Abuse Prevention Month. In 2008, Child Abuse America introduced the Pinwheels for prevention campaign. During April, in recognition of this important program, Kentucky, like most states, displayed blue and silver pinwheels across the state on the lawns of the Kentucky Capitol, schools and other government buildings.

This year, in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Governor Andy Beshear proclaimed that, “There is no greater priority for me as Kentucky’s Governor than ensuring the safety and health of our children, both physically and mentally. I am proud to proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Kentucky. Together, we can make a better Kentucky for our kids.”

Sadly, and notwithstanding the words of Governor Beshear, for the third straight year Kentucky has once again led the nation with the highest child abuse rate. So, while Governor Beshear should be lauded for his recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, one could only wish that his “actions would speak louder than words” when it comes to Kentucky’s children in need and Sunrise Children’s Services.

For those who have never heard of Sunrise, it is appropriate to borrow a few lines from Sunrise Children’s Services website. Since 1869, “Sunrise Children’s Services [has provided] care and hope for hurting families through Christ-centered ministries. Today, Sunrise provides therapeutic foster care, residential therapeutic treatment, and community-based services statewide; and its family services program is licensed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a Behavioral Health Services Organization.”

According to its most recent statistics, since 2006, Sunrise has celebrated 570 adoptions of children fostered through its foster care program. In 2019 alone, Sunrise served approximately 2,081 children and families and more than 1,000 children and adults daily. Yes, those are staggering numbers of success stories, stories which soon may come to an end because of Kentucky’s out of control political correctness campaign. Unless Sunrise agrees to bow at Kentucky’s altar of political correctness and agrees to sign a contract which would require the organization to give up its strongly held religious beliefs, on July 1st Kentucky will cancel its contract with Sunrise.

So, one must ask the rhetorical question of just exactly where Governor Beshear or Cabinet Secretary Eric Friedlander of the Cabinet for Family and Health Services intend to place the children now in the care of either Sunrise or Sunrise’s foster families? Of course, as with most political decisions, decisions driven by political correctness, it is almost certain that neither Governor Beshear nor Secretary Friedlander have even considered that possibility, unless of course, they plan on moving Kentucky’s children in need to those foster care organizations that espouse the same so-called politically correct ideologies. Even with that as an option, one is left to wonder aloud whether those other organizations have a success record even close to that of Sunrise.

What makes this demand, or more appropriately ultimatum so ridiculous is that before the end of June, the Supreme Court will issue an opinion in a case involving Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia which should decide the same issue, which is, “Whether the government violates the First Amendment by conditioning a religious agency’s ability to participate in the foster care system on taking actions and making statement that directly contradict the agency’s religious beliefs.” It appears from much that has been written after the oral arguments in the case, that neither the City of Philadelphia, nor Kentucky, will be able to require a religious organization to give up its religious beliefs as a condition of its continued participation in foster care programs.

In the end, Governor Beshear needs to take a step backward and reconsider this matter as more than political correctness. And regardless of what decision the Supreme Court might issue, Governor Beshear needs to put the needs of Kentucky’s children first and allow Sunrise and its dedicated staff to continue to care for Kentucky’s children in need. It is time for Governor Beshear to apply that old maxim that actions speak louder than words.

Oh, and by the way, maybe everyone should take a moment to visit Sunrise.org and view just one or two of its “Sunrise Found Me Testimonials.” There is little doubt that once you see what is happening at Sunrise you will agree that Kentucky needs Sunrise Children’s Services, and more importantly, so do Kentucky’s children in need.

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