Hundreds of Kentuckians from across the Commonwealth, including over 150 children and youth, convened in Frankfort today for the 14th annual Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol. They urged elected leaders to support the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children, a unified agenda for child advocates across the state.

“Today, youth, faith leaders, teachers, social works, pediatricians, elected leaders, and many others unite to ask our leaders to make Kentucky children a priority during the 2018 legislative session and while crafting the state budget. Kids’ issues give elected leaders and citizens a real chance to find common ground and common-sense solutions,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

Youth and advocates joined Governor Matt Bevin, Senate President Robert Stivers, and several other legislators and state officials at the Rally for Kentucky Kids in the Capitol Rotunda, which included performances by several groups of children and youth.

The following legislators and officials were honored with 2018 Champion for Children awards:

  • Senate President Robert Stivers
  • Senator Julie Raque Adams
  • Senator David Givens
  • Senator Whitney Westerfield
  • Senator Mike Wilson
  • Representative Addia Wuchner
  • Secretary John Tilley

And these legislators were honored with the 2018 Step Up for Kids awards at a Legislative Reception for Kentucky Youth on the Capitol Mezzanine:

  • Representative Joe Fischer
  • Representative Larry Brown
  • Representative Jason Nemes
  • Representative Chad McCoy
  • Representative Kim King

In addition to the rally and reception with youth, advocates are meeting with legislators throughout the day and attending committee meetings. Several groups of youth are meeting with key leaders, including Senate President Robert Stivers, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Attorney General Andy Beshear, Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet John Tilley, and others.

“We are fortunate to have people and organizations advocating each day for youth, and the issues that matter to them,” said Cynthia Schepers, a Kentucky youth formerly in foster care who shared her story at the opening of the Rally for Kentucky Kids. “I am grateful for the many organizations dedicated to helping foster youth, and for such a compassionate Governor, First Lady, and legislators that have open ears, open hearts, and open minds for the youth of Kentucky. I am also grateful for all of the people like you, who advocate every day to brighten the future for the kids in this state.”

Advocates are pushing for several policies on the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children 2018 agenda ranging from keeping kids safe from abuse and neglect and better supporting families, building safer communities and stronger kids with effective responses to children who get in trouble, and increasing the tobacco tax by at least $1 to keep teens from starting to smoke and reduce smoking among pregnant women.

“Small steps in improving policy should never be discounted. And yet broad and fundamental change is in the air in Frankfort when it comes to children. I firmly believe that the Governor and legislative leadership are poised to launch core reform in child welfare, youth justice, and the K-12 system. That kind of sweeping change is what our young people need and it is what they deserve,” said Brooks.

Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol is made possible with the support of Kentucky KIDS COUNT sponsors Passport Health Plan, Kosair Charities®, and Delta Dental of Kentucky, along with Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children partners from across the state.