Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
The Governor’s speech this evening will inevitably and instantly create cheers and disagreement when it comes to education and pensions, health care and right to work. That kind of debate is not necessarily a bad thing, as I would suggest it could be labeled “democracy.”
The headline arenas that leapt out as the common ground around which every Kentuckian, and every Kentucky lawmaker, should celebrate were child welfare and school safety. Some elements of his speech – such as his endorsement of Senate Bill 1 – seemingly had everyone on her or his feet applauding.
And other elements – such as his attention on bullying and the drug epidemic – rightfully created a collective sadness.
Governor Bevin pointed to the much-needed revolution that Kentucky lawmakers have sparked. Frankfort leaders in both the legislative and executive branches – and our leaders in Washington, through the recently passed Family First Prevention Act – are not about the business of simply improving child welfare at the edges or making incremental shifts. Kentucky’s child welfare revolution can mean that every Kentucky kid will have a family and grow up safe and secure.
As we look at the continuum of care from family preservation to foster care to adoption, there are clear and decisive wins that have already occurred. There are also innovations that, while still in their nascent moments, resonate with the potential to make a profound difference for kids. We especially continue to emphasize the pivotal role that kinship caregivers can play in this revolution. Kentucky has the highest rate of children being raised by relatives in the nation. This means that Kentucky kinship caregivers need diversified supports from Frankfort and from local communities as they form a hedge of protection around some of our most vulnerable and traumatized children.
So debate what needs debating. And celebrate what needs celebrating about. And begin that celebration around a new day for kids’ safety and security in the Commonwealth.
About Kentucky Youth Advocates
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 www.kyyouth.org.