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Social workers say "Boni Bill" needs revision

Their job is to help children and families, but often times they claim they are the ones who are the victims.

“But I do feel that I have saved at least one person. But for every one I save, there’s two that want to hurt me,” social worker Lula Duerson said as she testified before the House Health and Welfare committee on Thursday.

Legislation passed in the 2007 session called the “Boni Bill” in the name of Boni Frederick, who died during a home visit, was supposed to fund millions for many safety improvements.

“Money was spent on items that had little to do with safety, such as cell phones that don’t work in many areas,” said social worker Larry Simmons.

Social workers say the problem is that the Boni Bill asked for the Executive branch to find $6 million, but only $2 million was actually delivered.

So now social workers are pushing for what was originally promised them. Their plea comes at a time when Kentucky leads the nation in child deaths. Some believe that’s because social worker numbers are stretched so thin.

“I work long hours, 12 to 13 hours a day,” said social worker April Tidwell.

And there’s horror stories of what they encounter.

“We had a worker attacked by a pit bull..she got away only because she ran fast enough,” said Tidwell.

So lawmakers are pledging to act again.

“Some of you should have hazardous duty pay, because you go into the trenches and war zones,” said Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington.

Committee chairman Tom Burch says he’s going to file another Boni Bill tomorrow or next week.


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