Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
Today, the Kentucky Senate took decisive action to fundamentally reform Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system, protecting kids and ensuring families are safe and supported, with passage of House Bill 1.
If there is an arena that historically has been marked by more rhetoric than action, it is around the child welfare system. HB 1 will fundamentally change the landscape for Kentucky’s most vulnerable young people. That is why we applaud co-sponsors Representative David Meade and Representative Joni Jenkins for their diligent work on this measure during the interim to gather input from stakeholders, including youth formerly in foster care. The First Lady’s ongoing support and leadership within the systems that protect and care for our Commonwealth’s children has been a catalyst for action. And today Senate President Stivers, Committee Chair Julie Raque Adams, Senator Whitney Westerfield, and a bipartisan band of Senators prioritized our most vulnerable Kentuckians with passage of HB 1, which sets forth a comprehensive plan to strengthen how the commonwealth supports children impacted by abuse or neglect.
HB 1 seeks to strengthen supports to help keep families together safely and, when that’s not possible, addressing timelines for adoption cases so that children can more quickly move toward finding a permanent family. The bill also includes a number of changes that evaluate and improve the performance of programs serving kids and families and help ensure decisions prioritize the best interest of the child. We appreciate the thoughtful approach to address neonatal substance exposure to prioritize what is best to ensure women seek and receive substance use treatment for the health and safety of the child.
In a time of division – in a time when it is easy to become disenchanted with the political process – HB 1 is silhouetted as an example of the powerful good that can come when elected leaders lead. Its impact will be profound and sweeping. Every Kentucky kid deserves a family and HB 1 can make that happen.
Stay up-to-date on Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities and other bills that are good for kids on our Kentucky General Assembly Bill Tracker.