Louisville, KY – Hundreds of youth advocates from across Kentucky are 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 Commonwealth. Today, youth, state leaders, and advocates gathered in the Capitol Rotunda for the Rally for Kentucky Kids – the first in-person rally with child advocates since January 2020.
“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 decisions that build a brighter future for every Kentucky kid,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.
Governor Andy Beshear, Lt Governor Jacqueline Coleman, and Senator Julie Raque Adams joined Kentucky Youth Advocates for the Rally for Kentucky Kids, which included remarks and performances by several Kentucky young people.
The following state legislators were honored with Champion for Children awards for their leadership on Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities in the 2022 Kentucky General Assembly:
- Senator Julie Raque Adams
- Senator Danny Carroll
- Senator Jason Howell
- Senator Whitney Westerfield
- Senator Max Wise
- Representative Samara Heavrin
- Representative Bobby McCool
- Representative Kimberly Poore Moser
- Representative Lisa Willner
The following community leaders and young people were also honored with Champion for Children awards for their advocacy efforts for Kentucky kids and families:
- Barry Allen, President & Treasurer, The Gheens Foundation, Inc.
- Eltuan Dawson, youth advocate, True Up Peer Network Member
- Felicity Therese Krueger, youth advocate, Journey to Success Kentucky Member
- Leon Mooneyhan, former executive director of the Ohio Valley Education Cooperative
- Debby Yetter, former investigative journalist with The Courier Journal
“As an advocate and former adolescent in Kentucky’s foster care system, I know how important it is to be able to be just a kid, to be able to be just a family. I invite all of Kentucky’s kids and young adult advocates to be your own champion and to be a champion for others. Your experiences are valid, and your needs deserve to be addressed. There are so many ways to get involved in advocacy, so be creative, be brave, and be bold,” urged Tamara Vest, former foster youth, Policy & Advocacy Analyst with Kentucky Youth Advocates, who provided opening remarks for the Rally for Kentucky Kids.
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 leadership, Senate President Pro Tem David Givens, Senator Danny Carroll, Representative Samara Heavrin, Representative Killian Timoney, and others.
Advocates are pushing for several state policies on the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children 2023 agenda, including improving housing stability for families, closing gaps in child abuse and neglect reporting and improving oversight of the child welfare system, ensuring unemployment insurance is available to survivors of domestic violence, establishing a minimum age that a child can be charged with an offense, and curbing youth vaping by establishing a statewide tobacco retail license.
“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. 2023 is a critical year to consider just that, especially as the Commonwealth faces challenges within the juvenile justice system and with the pending Governor’s race. Our lawmakers must make legislative decisions that prioritize the best outcomes for kids. Our community advocates must make their voices heard. 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, Seven Counties Services/ Bellewood & Brooklawn, presenting and social media sponsor, Save the Children Kentucky, and our many partner sponsors. We appreciate their support of Kentucky’s largest effort to bring child advocates together.
For more information, visit kyyouth.org/childrens-advocacy-week/. For more information about the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children visit kyyouth.org/blueprintky/.
Photo/Video Note: All Children’s Advocacy Week events conducted via Zoom and, Facebook Live will be recorded and posted to Kentucky Youth Advocates’ YouTube page. Please contact Mara Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 kyyouth.org.
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. The Blueprint speaks with a common voice to create brighter futures for all Kentucky kids and their families.
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