billThough it may feel like any other hot week of summer in Kentucky, this week will be the first that new laws enacted during the 2015 legislative session take effect. All legislation was effective on Wednesday, June 24th, unless the bill had a specific delayed implementation date. For Kentucky children, this means that new laws will now better protect them from abuse and neglect, promote strong child care options, and require safer travel by car.

SB 119, sponsored by Senator Julie Raque Adams with Representative Rita Smart carrying a companion bill, ensures school personnel receive information on how to recognize and report signs of child abuse and neglect. The earlier we intervene and protect children, the better for the child. The legislation – which allows time for school districts to implement the training – will equip teachers, coaches, and administrators with the information they need to help protect their students.

HB 429, sponsored by Representative John Tilley, creates a child care advisory council to support a vibrant, high-quality system of child care. Quality child care centers play a critical role in achieving the goal of preparing all children to enter kindergarten ready to learn.

HB 315, sponsored by Representative Steve Riggs, strengthens Kentucky’s booster seat law to protect children from injuries in car crashes. Now, children under age 8 who are between 40 and 57 inches tall must use a booster seat so that the lap portion of the seatbelt fits low on the hips or top of the thighs and the shoulder portion crosses the collarbone. Even though the law only requires children to be in a booster seat until age 8, safety groups do recommend keeping children in a booster until they reach 57 inches in height, regardless of age.

Additional important pieces of legislation will take effect later. On January 1, 2016, the protections for victims of dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking passed with HB 8 will take effect. And on July 1st of this year, full implementation occurs for the major reforms to Kentucky’s juvenile justice system that passed in the 2014 session with SB 200.

The positive change for children created by Kentucky’s legislative leaders this session is now a reality. Successful implementation will help Kentucky children have the opportunity to grow up safe and healthy.