Mara Powell
502-895-8167 *122

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

Tough fiscal times demand more than tough decisions. Today, the Kentucky Senate made those tough decisions while passing the amended executive branch budget. Most notably, the Senate affirmed their commitment to Kentucky’s most vulnerable children.

We applaud the Senate for maintaining investments in kinship families, as well as supports for children who’ve been impacted by abuse or neglect. We are encouraged that investments remain in the Senate proposal for the retention and recruitment of state social workers, though the allocation is lower than previous proposals. We’re also encouraged to hear about protection of foster care and adoption supports and substance use treatment for pregnant women. The budget also protects vital investments in the HANDS program, which supports expecting and new parents. Additionally, we appreciate the investment in SEEK funding for schools and transportation funding to school districts at current levels.

As the budget moves forward for concurrence or conference committee, we hope that the final proposal includes robust supports for relatives who step up to care for kids and reimbursement increases for the child care assistance program to support a strong workforce. Because we know we have critical state investments that this budget wasn’t able to fund, we also appreciate the Senate’s willingness to consider comprehensive tax reform to ensure adequate revenue for a successful Kentucky future.

In tight times, the temptation is to talk only about what doesn’t happen or isn’t included. The Senate’s proposed budget, in fact, makes good things happen for Kentucky’s kids, particularly when it comes to ensuring that every child is safe from abuse and that every child has a family.