Youth Justice

Kentucky needs a system of justice that holds youth accountable for their actions while using effective, evidence-based interventions to help put those children on a path to becoming productive citizens of our Commonwealth. Children engaged with the juvenile justice system are 4 to 10 times more likely to enter the adult justice system. Using proven community-based programs that help keep children with their families and in their communities will not only improve public safety, but also save taxpayer dollars.



  • End the practice of locking up children in detention centers for misbehaviors that do not pose a risk to public safety.
  • Promote the use of community-based alternatives to detention, like intensive therapeutic after-school programs or day treatment centers that address the underlying reasons for youth misbehavior.
  • Encourage practices that deliver balanced, reasonable, and age-appropriate responses to youth whose cases make it to court.
  • Divert children age 10 and under from court and into intensive services to prevent future misbehavior.
  • Ensure all children receive fair and equitable treatment regardless of their race, ethnicity, or gender.



  • SB 200 Implementation – Supporting effective implementation of Kentucky’s recent juvenile justice reform bill (SB 200), which passed in 2014, alongside other youth justice partners.  Continue to track data and pursue additional reforms under discussion by the Juvenile Justice Oversight Council.
  • Subcommittee for Equity and Justice for All Youth (SEJAY) – Statewide group focusing on reducing the over-representation of youth of color within Kentucky’s juvenile justice system.


Blog Posts

  • Kids Win When Congress Prioritizes Them

    This post originally appeared as an op-ed in the Courier Journal on August 4, 2017. By Dr. Terry Brooks City BBQ features the best brisket I have ever eaten! It also features an array of “front porch gems of wisdoms” that make … Continue Reading

  • Celebrate “Cool” Wins for Kids this Summer

    Summer is here! As Kentuckians, we can certainly count on experiencing hot and humid weather and can hopefully count on enjoying cool treats and days playing in the sprinkler. Another certainty we can count on during the Kentucky summer is … Continue Reading

  • Guest Post: Opening Doors to a Positive Future

    By Reggie Smith As a strong advocate for young adults, I am grateful to acknowledge the recent passing of SB 195 during the 2017 Kentucky legislative session. This bill provides youth with the opportunity to expunge certain felonies off of … Continue Reading

  • Coming Soon: 2017 National KIDS COUNT Data Book

    Next Tuesday, June 13th, Kentucky Youth Advocates co-releases the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book. The Data Book includes data on all 50 states, and you can see how Kentucky is faring on 16 key indicators of child well-being. … Continue Reading

  • 40 Years of Showing Up for Kids

    Since our founding in 1977, we at Kentucky Youth Advocates have made it our vision to make Kentucky the best place in America to be a kid. Forty years ago, with a much smaller staff and budget, advocates came together … Continue Reading

More from our Blog



Find a behavioral health provider for a child in need in your county:

Children’s Alliance Directory of Services (not a comprehensive list for each county)


kidscount_dc200x90Find state and county level data on youth justice:

Visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center 


yjres200x90Learn more about SB 200:

Kentucky’s juvenile justice reform bill