At the 14th annual Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol, hundreds of advocates and youth gathered in the Rotunda to celebrate wins for Kentucky kids in the 2017 legislative session and to rally in support of priorities on the 2018 Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children agenda.

Kids win when leaders step up for them and the General Assembly took action in 2017 on a number of Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children legislative priorities. Because of those wins in 2017, we were honored to celebrate the leaders who stepped up and championed kids’ issues by giving Champions for Children and Step Up for Kids awards at the 2018 Children’s Advocacy Day.

2018 Champions for Children Awards

During the rally, the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children presented Champions for Children awards to leaders for their ongoing commitment to Kentucky kids. Advocates celebrated Senator Julie Raque Adams, Senator David Givens, and Representative Addia Wuchner for keeping our youngest Kentuckians safe and supporting those who must be removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. Senator Raque Adams and Senator Givens worked to craft a strong bill (SB 236) that gives employers important information about findings of child abuse that works for the nuanced substantiations process. Representative Wuchner championed HB 180 to allow children removed from their homes to be placed with close family friends, also known as fictive kin.

Advocates also celebrated Senator Mike Wilson for providing leadership on a number of issues within the policy arena of K-12. In many ways, Senator Wilson’s commitment around thoughtful assessment and accountability, focus of student achievement, and supporting local schools culminated in the passage of the landmark SB 1.

Advocates celebrated Senator Whitney Westerfield and Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley for their continued leadership on issues within the justice and youth justice systems. Secretary Tilley and Senator Westerfield championed SB 120, which focused on facilitating successful transition for people leaving prison to a productive life – an outcome that is better for kids and local communities. Senator Westerfield also championed SB 195 in 2017, which allows additional youth records to be expunged to help children stay on track succeed.

Finally, advocates celebrated a true champion for Kentucky’s children, Senate President Robert Stivers, who understands the importance of supporting kids now as the future leaders of our commonwealth.

2018 Step Up for Kids Awards

During the youth reception, Kentucky youth presented Step Up for Kids Awards to several elected leaders who took action on behalf of kids in 2017. Advocates celebrated Representative Larry Brown for stepping up to ensure youth in foster care are able to get a driver’s license. Representative Kim King received an award for stepping up to make sure Kentucky schools are kept up-to-date with information that ensures kids are safe. Representative Chad McCoy received an award for championing child abuse protections for Kentucky kids. Additionally, advocates celebrated Representative Joe Fischer and Representative Jason Nemes for stepping up to help ensure youth who’ve made a mistake are not held back from success as an adult.

Kentucky leaders have a number of challenges and opportunities before them in the 2018 legislative session and while crafting the state’s biennial budget. We hope leaders continue to step up and champion kids’ issues, including policies on the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children 2018 agenda, like 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.

Stay up-to-date on the progress of Blueprint priorities and other bills that are good for kids on the Kentucky General Assembly Bill Tracker.