When it comes to the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children policy priorities, kids won in Frankfort during the 2018 legislative session. Because of advocates like you, the following Blueprint priorities are awaiting the Governor’s signature:
HB 1. Every child deserves a family, and House Bill 1—sponsored by Representatives David Meade and Joni Jenkins—upholds that ideal by strengthening supports to help keep families together safely and, when that’s not possible, addressing timelines for adoption cases so that children can more quickly move toward finding a permanent family. HB 1 also includes a number of changes that evaluate and improve the performance of programs serving kids and families and help ensure decisions prioritize the best interest of the child.
HB 527. Kids win when their best interests are prioritized. House Bill 527, sponsored by Representative Steve Riley and championed by Senator Dan Seum, does just that by promoting the educational stability of children who’ve experienced abuse or neglect by allowing them to remain in the school where they were most recently enrolled or, when that is not in their best interest, ensuring a seamless transition to their new school.
SB 133. All children deserve a strong start in life. Senate Bill 133, sponsored by Senators Julie Raque Adams, Whitney Westerfield, and Alice Forgy Kerr, makes the health of Kentucky kids a priority even before birth by allowing pregnant inmates to access substance use treatment. It also prohibits the shackling of pregnant inmates during labor and delivery and takes steps to minimize the impact of parental incarceration by making criminal justice reforms to focus incarceration on serious offenses.
SB 137. When adults are held accountable in the court system, kids are safer from abuse. Senate Bill 137, sponsored by Senator Whitney Westerfield, will now give judges the option to allow testimony from a trustworthy adult to whom a child has disclosed abuse.
This year the General Assembly also passed the biennial budget. As we consider the proposed budget and Kentucky’s kids, and given the tight budget constraints, it is important to highlight the wins: significant child welfare investments, education funding in the form of SEEK and transportation dollars, and full funding for the Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSCs). And yet, as Dr. Terry Brooks said in his statement, there are still some, “what if’s?,” including a stronger commitment to kinship caregivers, an increase of at least $1 in the tobacco tax, and a state refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.
And there is still one more thing you can do for Kentucky kids! Please call your legislators to thank them for all they did for kids this year. Our action alerts page has more information about how to make those calls. Learn more about these bills and other bills that are good for kids on our bill tracker.
Advocates, thank you for standing up for Kentucky kids this legislative session. Kentucky kids are lucky to have you on their side.