While the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly saw many confounding moments, we also saw continued positive momentum when it came to addressing childhood adversity. Kentucky’s policymakers, once again, found common ground when it came to the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on Kentucky’s kids and families. 

This year, Bloom Kentucky identified four policy areas to focus on throughout the 2023 legislative session which included 1) supporting the health and well-being of new moms and their babies, 2) strengthening Kentucky’s families and workforce, 3) addressing access to unemployment insurance benefits for survivors of intimate partner violence, and 4) promoting housing stability.

Here’s a recap of how our 2023 Bloom policy priorities fared:

  • Support the health and well-being of new moms and their babies. SB 135 requires the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to make publicly available information and an assessment tool on postpartum depression and other related mental health disorders, as well as develop and implement a panel aimed at improving the quality of prevention and treatment of perinatal mental health disorders. SB 135 has been signed by the Governor to become law.
  • KTAP modernizations. While KTAP is a vital program for Kentucky’s most vulnerable families, it has not been updated since 1998 and benefits have not kept up with inflation or the needs of today’s workforce. This administrative regulation update includes doubling the benefit amount, increasing program eligibility levels, making it easier for two parent families to access, mitigating the benefit cliff, and expanding supportive services.

Two of Bloom Kentucky’s economic security priorities unfortunately did not make it across the finish line this legislative session. We will continue working to uplift these policy priorities in the coming legislative sessions:

  1. Promote housing stability by establishing a process to automatically expunge an eviction from a family’s record after they have been eviction-free for a reasonable amount of time. Evictions disrupt every part of a family’s life, and once an eviction is filed it remains on a person’s record forever, making it difficult for them to find safe, stable housing in the future. SB 134 would have given families with a history of evictions a pathway to housing stability by creating a process to automatically expunge evictions after a set period of time. 
  2. Ensure survivors of intimate partner violence can access unemployment insurance benefits if their reason for not working is directly related to the violence, assault, or stalking. HB 93 would have created a pathway for survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking to get access to unemployment insurance if they needed to leave their job as a result of those issues. Unfortunately this priority did not see committee assignment, while in previous years it successfully made it through the House.

While the gavel has officially fallen to mark the closing of the 2023 General Assembly, Bloom Kentucky is hard at work in preparation for 2024. In the coming months we will see a Gubernatorial race heat up, especially after the primary in May, and a significant focus on the upcoming biennial state budget that will be developed during the 60-day session beginning in January 2024. We are looking forward to the opportunities that 2024 will bring to further address ACEs within our communities and help support our kids and families throughout the state!

Bloom Kentucky is also looking forward to getting out into the state to listen to advocates from all sectors and all levels of experience and interest. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement around a Listening Tour coming to a city or town near you in May and June. We can’t wait to see you all soon!

Learn more about Bloom Kentucky, including its state policy and budget priorities and available data on ACEs in the Commonwealth, at bloomkentucky.org.