Health impacts every aspect of a child’s life and is one of the most important components of overall child well-being. As the Kentucky legislature faces tough decisions in crafting the next biennial state budget in coming months, it’s imperative that we as a Commonwealth ensure that the more than one million Kentucky children have access to the support they need for their healthy development.

Kentucky kids rely on vital state programs, such as HANDS, KCHIP, Medicaid, and smoking cessation treatment, to grow into healthy, productive adults who contribute to a strong Kentucky workforce.

Kids and their parents need access to in-home support and resources to promote healthy development.

Kentucky’s Health Access Nurturing Development Services, HANDS, is a free, voluntary program for moms-to-be and first time parents who would like support and education throughout pregnancy and the first two years of the baby’s life. The HANDS program is provided in every county in Kentucky for first time parents, and in nearly every county for parents who have more than one child. Ensuring the HANDS program continues to receive state funds to provide positive health and social outcomes for children and families is good for Kentucky families and provides a strong return-on-investment.

Kids need access to a doctor, dentist, and other health care providers to stay healthy.

Kids rely on a state budget that supports strong health insurance coverage through Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) and Medicaid. KCHIP and Medicaid ensure children in low-income families receive access to health coverage that allows them to receive high quality care addressing their physical, behavioral, oral, and vision health needs. We know that having health insurance means children can visit the doctor or the dentist to get the care they need to stay healthy. Continuing to prioritize the Medicaid and KCHIP programs will reassure parents that they can access care when their child is sick.

Pregnant women need access to prenatal care and smoking cessation treatments.

A healthy start in life begins during pregnancy and early infancy. Maternal smoking diminishes that good start. Babies born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy are more likely to suffer from low birthweight and premature birth. When a woman quits smoking during pregnancy, especially if she quits early in the pregnancy, infant health benefits. Funding to ensure pregnant women can access prenatal care for a strong pregnancy and smoking cessation treatments are effective interventions to reduce smoking during pregnancy.

Kids need access to preventive health services, such as immunizations and dental sealants.

Receiving preventative health services are particularly important for children living in poverty. Children in low-income families typically experience worse health outcomes than children living in families with higher income levels because of financial constraints and limited access to preventive services. By continuing to fund preventive health services, such as immunizations, dental cleanings, and well-child checkups for vulnerable children, the Commonwealth will receive long term cost savings in health care as the child transitions to adulthood.


As budget discussions loom, we ask that the state budget continues to maintain funding for programs such as HANDS, KCHIP, Medicaid, and smoking cessation treatment to provide high-quality health services for children and pregnant women.

Read more about building a budget for Kentucky kids here. View a one-pager on Kentucky state budget investments in kids here.