Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unparalleled challenges for families and obligations for our leaders. Today, the Beshear Administration took pragmatic action by answering the call of advocates to enact emergency regulations for the HANDS home visiting service during this unprecedented public health emergency.
Even in “normal” circumstances, parenting is tough, and the lack of knowledge of how to ensure a healthy pregnancy and handle typical child behaviors can make it more stressful. When parents enter home visitation programs, like the Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) program, early in the pregnancy, the effects are dramatic—increases in adequate prenatal care, lower rates of preterm birth and low birth weight, and lowered incidence of child abuse.
With these new regulations in place, HANDS providers can now admit new families into the program via telehealth, use the curriculum virtually with currently enrolled families, and support their staff at a previously contracted rate. During a public health emergency when families are especially vulnerable, these fundamental services should remain available and easily accessible.
We commend Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander and the Beshear Administration for prioritizing the critical HANDS providers and removing barriers for families by allowing teleservices to administer the program.
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.