Family protests against social services

Aaron K. Nelson anelson@civitasmedia.com

August 12, 2014

PRESTONSBURG — One little girl’s family is desperate to bring her home and find justice for her situation, which they are blaming on a slow and apathetic bureaucracy.

The family of 2-year-old Holly Nicole Leann Harvel, known to her family as Nikki, showed up to First Commonwealth Bank on Monday morning with colorful signs and a car decorated in messages of love and support.

The tragic situation began when Nikki was mauled by a dog at her home. After a trip to the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center, she was taken for a followup with her pediatrician, who noted the extent that the wounds were getting infected, and told her family that she required immediate hospitalization.

Her family says that the process of getting her the medical attention she needed required a trip to Floyd County social services, because they did not have the authority to admit Nikki to a nearby hospital. They say that while waiting for the situation to be resolved — two to three hours, according to family member Bruce Jarrell — the infection worsened. They say that every moment was critical to saving Nikki’s eyesight and combating the infection.

Now, custody of Nikki has been awarded to the state, at a time her family says she needs to be with loved ones the most.

Their protest was against the social workers who they say held up medical treatment and took custody of the child on tenuous grounds. They first set up at First Commonwealth Bank, where the local offices of the Cabinet of Health and Family Services are located. They moved shortly after from the bank parking lot to the busier roadway of Route 114, where their signs garnered supportive honks from passing cars.

When reached for comment, the Floyd County social services deferred questions to their main office in Frankfort. Representatives there said they cannot comment on ongoing internal investigations, nor can they make any comment on matters involving young children.