Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
By all accounts, a real asset in Kentucky are the thousands of kinship caregivers who are stepping up for children who cannot remain safely with their parents. We know that children who’ve experienced abuse or neglect do better when they are placed with relatives as they experience less trauma when separated from parents, less disruption to their education, and fewer behavioral issues. And supporting our caregivers ensures our children have every opportunity for success.
Yesterday, the Kentucky House demonstrated its commitment to supporting children in the care of relative and fictive kin caregivers in Kentucky with the passage of House Bill 2. Through this measure, state leaders are taking key steps to better support these families.
We hope this measure is a catalyst for a systemic and comprehensive initiative around kinship care. With the amendment on HB 2, the Commonwealth will see a reporting mechanism that provides accurate and up-to-date numbers on “the state of kinship care,” and while that may not sound exciting, it is imperative for accountability. We want supports – whether that is financial or respite care or training – to happen consistently and in the immediate for kinship and fictive caregivers regardless of the family’s zip code. Whether a grandma is a foster parent formally or simply stepping into fill the gap for that little child, these kinds of supports are critical for kids’ well-being in the moment and key in family reunification.
There is no question that Governor Bevin, the First Lady, and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services have launched a child welfare revolution that is so needed and merits applause. We want to ensure that kinship care is embraced as a vital element of that revolution with vigor and a sense of urgency.
We thank Representative Chris Fugate for championing HB 2, Representative David Meade for further strengthening the bill, and members of the Kentucky House for leading the Commonwealth on this issue. HB 2 can launch a commitment to kinship families that will put a hedge of protection around some of the state’s most vulnerable boys and girls.
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.
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.