Mara Powell
502-895-8167 *122

Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates

Today, the Governor named Adam Meier as Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) and Kristi Putnam as a Deputy Secretary. As the Cabinet that most impacts the lives of Kentucky children and families, CHFS leadership plays a critical role in protecting children from abuse and neglect, promoting health and access to health care, and connecting families to services to meet basic needs. Kentucky families and children are counting on the Secretary to engage families and stakeholders impacted by CHFS decisions, to ensure CHFS decisions focus on best policy and not politics, and keep the best outcomes of kids and families at the forefront.

That kind of leadership is needed to tackle the immediate challenges facing CHFS:

  1. Because parent coverage is strongly linked to child health coverage, CHFS initial roll-out and on-going implementation of the 1115 Medicaid Waiver requirements must be clear for families to understand, participate in, and utilize. Minimizing barriers to coverage and services for parents is vital to ensuring children do not lose their coverage, even if children’s eligibility and benefits do not directly change.
  2. With investments made in the state budget for children impacted by abuse and neglect and in kinship families, there is real opportunity for CHFS to uphold the value that every child has a safe, permanent place to call home with a family. Those distinct supports for kinship caregivers—be that relative foster care payments or the anticipated re-opening of the Kinship Care Program—must be clearly communicated with eligible families so that children in the care of relatives have the opportunity to thrive.
  3. When internal processes and practices run efficiently, children’s cases receive the attention to detail and support they need to generate the best outcomes. Continued significant internal reforms to increase transparency, ensure quality, and enhance the career ladder of frontline workers are steps in the right direction to see the best outcomes for kids and families.

We look forward to working with Secretary Meier and Deputy Secretary Putnam to ensure Kentucky kids are safe, healthy, and secure.