Children can’t vote or contribute to campaigns, but the issues that impact their lives will be decided by the choices we make this coming Tuesday when we head to the polls.
Right now, children in Kentucky face a mountain of challenges: Kentucky leads the nation in the number of child deaths from abuse and neglect, places 6th in child poverty, and places 3rd in child obesity.
Over the past three weeks we have used this blog to highlight agenda items in the 2012 Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children – clear solutions that we want our elected officials to not only support, but champion as part of their plan for the next four years. While none of our asks are small, they have critical implications for children and families in our state. They include the following (click on the links for a full blog post about that topic):
- Reduce child deaths and near deaths due to abuse and neglect by making data more transparent, identifying best practice solutions, and ensuring adequate resources are in place for proper investigations of child abuse and neglect.
- Improve access to high quality child care for all children in Kentucky by replacing declining Tobacco Settlement funds that pay for the KIDS Now Early Childhood programs and by redesigning the licensing and quality rating systems so that they are streamlined and child centered.
- Continue to improve the quality of alternative education programs by monitoring recent regulatory changes and work to improve professional standards, fiscal accountability and governance.
- Curb the incarceration of youth for misbehaviors like skipping school and running away by encouraging the use of community-based alternatives, addressing the underlying causes, and placing moderate limits on how long youth must follow court-ordered guidelines for their behavior.
- Ensure the new managed care system in Kentucky meets children’s health needs by measuring outcomes such as KCHIP enrollment and retention rates and advocating for utilization of school based health services, enhanced quality of care, and better access to providers.
- Raise working families out of poverty, improve child well-being, and create a more productive future workforce by enacting a state, refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Help working families offset the high cost of work-related child care expenses by making the state Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit refundable.
Let’s be honest. With only 5 days left until Election Day in Kentucky, we haven’t heard much from our candidates about how they plan to make the Commonwealth a better place for children, much less their positions on the Blueprint priorities listed above.
That’s all the more reason to step up our efforts for children, starting Wednesday, November 9 to push our newly elected officials to make children’s issues a priority – not in word, but in deed.
Improving the lives of children in our state needs to be a top priority for our elected officials, because the future success of Kentucky depends on the well-being of our children today. We need a governor who understands that until we invest in our future, we are never going to make progress as a commonwealth.