As we reflect on the 2022 Kentucky General Assembly, this year’s legislative session was certainly a mixed bag. From debates on local control vs. big government to the infiltration of national lobbying groups, it seems as though we might have been left with more questions than answers.
The good news, however, is that Kentucky’s policymakers found common ground when it came to Kentucky kids and families and the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We are pleased to share that Bloom Kentucky’s first legislative session was an overall success!
Bloom identified various policy priorities at the beginning of the legislative session which included 1) increasing access to quality child care, 2) increasing access to mental health supports in schools, 3) addressing parental incarceration, and 4) addressing the trauma of children witnessing domestic violence.
Here’s a recap of how our 2022 Bloom policy priorities fared:
- Increasing access to quality childcare. HB 499 establishes the Employee Child-Care Assistance Partnership program, as well as reporting requirements and a fund to be administered by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. An additional $15 million was included in the biennial state budget to invest in this program. The bill and this item in the budget were both signed by the Governor. HB 1, the budget bill, prioritized the child care sector by securing a $2 per day child care provider reimbursement rate increase. It has now been delivered to the Secretary of State for signature.
- Access to school-based mental health support. SB 102 requires schools to provide a yearly census of the school-based mental health providers to determine if the ratios of providers to students is meeting the mark. This has been signed by the Governor. HB 44 provides an option for a local school district’s attendance policy to include provisions for a student’s mental or behavioral health status. It has also been signed by the Governor. Additionally, HB 1, the state budget bill as mentioned above, allocated state funds for the implementation of the new suicide prevention hotline, 988.
- Reducing the trauma of parental incarceration. SB 296 would utilize community-based sentencing alternatives that promote both rehabilitation and accountability while factoring in whether a person is a primary caregiver so parents can continue providing for their children. While the bill was filed, it did not advance to get a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is the first year the bill was filed and we anticipate additional action during the next legislative session.
- Unemployment insurance for domestic violence survivors. HB 83 would ensure unemployment insurance is available for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking so they can support themselves and their children. This measure passed the Kentucky House and was received in the Senate but failed to advance. We will identify options and strategies to pursue next year.
While strides were made to help prevent and mitigate the impacts of childhood adversity this legislative session, there is still so much work to be done. Our Bloom Kentucky policy team is already preparing for the 2023 legislative session. We encourage advocates to get involved and learn more about adverse childhood experiences and the ways both community members and state leaders can support our kids and families throughout the Commonwealth!
If you are interested in engaging deeper in this work, please contact Melissa Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about our Bloom Kentucky community engagement opportunities and policy team workgroups.