Mara Powell

Governor Beshear, House Speaker Osborne, and Senator Westerfield Join Hundreds of Youth and Advocates for Virtual Rally for Kentucky Kids

Louisville, KY – Hundreds of youth advocates from across Kentucky are virtually convening this week for Children’s Advocacy Week. They are urging elected leaders to support the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children, a unified agenda for child advocates across the state. Today, in place of the gathering in the Capitol Rotunda, advocates and state leaders tuned into the virtual Rally for Kentucky Kids.

“Each year, Children’s Advocacy Week is a time for youth, parents, social workers, faith leaders, teachers, pediatricians, child care providers, community leaders, and many others to unite to ask our state leaders to make children a priority during the legislative session. Kids’ issues remain the common ground in which our elected leaders can make state policy and budget decisions that build a brighter future for every Kentucky kid,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

Governor Andy Beshear, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Whitney Westerfield, and House Speaker David Osborne joined youth and advocates at the virtual Rally for Kentucky Kids, which included remarks and performances by several Kentucky youth.

The following legislators, were honored with 2022 Champion for Children and Step Up for Kids awards for their efforts for kids in the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly:

  • Senator Ralph Alvarado
  • Senator Julie Raque Adams
  • Representative Lynn Bechler
  • Senator Karen Berg
  • Senator Danny Carroll
  • Senator Alice Forgy Kerr
  • Senator David Givens
  • Representative Mark Hart
  • Representative C. Ed Massey
  • Senator Chris McDaniel
  • Senator Morgan McGarvey
  • Senator Robby Mills
  • Senator Gerald Neal
  • Representative Ruth Ann Palumbo
  • Senator Dennis Parrett
  • Representative Jason Petrie
  • Senator Adrienne Southworth
  • Senator Robert Stivers
  • Senator Damon Thayer
  • Senator Reginald Thomas
  • Senator Whitney Westerfield
  • Senator Mike Wilson

The following state officials and advocates were also honored with 2022 Champion for Children awards for their efforts for kids and families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Christa Bell, Executive Advisor, Department for Community Based Services
  • Lesa Dennis, Deputy Commissioner, Department for Community Based Services
  • Jason Dunn, Director, Division of Family Support
  • Melissa Goins, Director, Division of Family Resource and Youth Services Centers
  • Sarah Vanover, Director, Division of Child Care
  • Jennifer Washburn, Community advocate for child care

“To Governor Beshear and legislators, I ask you to make sure our state budget is strong and that it will provide adequate resources accessible to at-risk families and those who support, teach, and care for our youth. This can only be achievable from listening to the institutions and constituents who have first-hand professional or lived experience. To my fellow Kentucky citizens, I urge you all to step up and advocate for a child or family in need. There is a way for each and every one of us to get involved,” said Tyler Hunter, Child Welfare Leader from Bowling Green.

In addition to the rally, advocates and youth are meeting with or hearing comments from legislators and other elected officials throughout the week, including Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, Department for Community Based Services Commissioner Marta Miranda-Straub, Senator Julie Raque Adams, Senator Max Wise, Representative Kim Banta, Representative David Meade, Representative Killian Timoney, and others.

Advocates are pushing for several state policies and budget investments on the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children 2022 agenda, including allowing city and county governments the option to regulate the use, display, sale, and distribution of tobacco products – including e-cigarettes – to curb tobacco use among youth, securing funding to support student mental health, closing gaps in child abuse and neglect reporting, ensuring unemployment insurance is available to survivors of domestic violence, establishing a minimum age that a child can be charged with an offense, and bolstering investments in the DCBS workforce and the child care system.

“As our young people, state leaders, and partner advocates join together during Children’s Advocacy Week, I’m reminded of the profound opportunities and obligations each of us has to be a champion for children. Our lawmakers must craft a state budget and make legislative decisions that prioritize an equitable recovery from the ripple effects of the pandemic. Our community advocates must make their voices heard this week and throughout the 2022 legislative session so kids remain the priority. Our kids deserve no less,” said Brooks.

Children’s Advocacy Week is made possible with the support of our many sponsors, including our signature sponsor, Aetna Better Health of Kentucky, presenting sponsor, United Healthcare, social media sponsors, AT&T and WellCare, and our many partner sponsors. We appreciate their support of Kentucky’s largest effort to bring child advocates together.

For more information, visit For more information about the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children visit

Photo/Video Note: All Children’s Advocacy Week events will be conducted via Zoom and, in some cases, Facebook Live and will be recorded and posted to Kentucky Youth Advocates’ YouTube page. Please contact Mara Powell at with questions.


Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at

The Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children is a coalition of non-profit, public, and private organizations that stands on three pillars: thriving communities launch strong families, strong families launch successful kids, and successful kids launch a prosperous future for Kentucky. As the commonwealth works to overcome the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and address systemic racism, the Blueprint speaks with a common voice to create brighter futures for all Kentucky kids and their families.