Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
We agree with Governor Andy Beshear that every vulnerable child is a critical priority for all of us. In fact, every child is a critical priority because in every child lies a promise and a potential.
Much of what the Governor said this evening in his first state of the Commonwealth address echoes the core foundations of the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children policy agenda. Emphases on access to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid supports, criminal justice system reform, the vital role of Family Resource and Youth Service Centers in schools, addressing the Commonwealth’s high rate of child abuse and neglect, and acknowledging the endemic nature of childhood poverty are encouraging directional signals sent from the Beshear administration.
We hope that the General Assembly and the Governor can agree that children are a common ground agenda to help kids today and boost Kentucky tomorrow. That common ground consensus and this evening’s speech can create optimism to be sure, but that optimism must be undergirded by real action.
Real action on policy ranging from continued child welfare reform to juvenile justice system improvements, from kitchen table economics to bolstering early childhood education.
And beyond policy, that optimism must be matched by state budget commitments. As important as tonight’s speech was symbolically, the Governor’s budget speech on January 28th is the talk of substance. We look forward to the Governor animating his comments tonight with deep budget proposals that support kids. That includes enacting a state refundable Earned Income Tax Credit, supporting kinship caregivers who step up to care for our most vulnerable kids, funding the commitments of the School Safety and Resiliency Act, deepening the Child Care Assistance Program, increasing supports for professionals who respond to child abuse and neglect with forensic services, and expanding Family Recovery Courts to serve families struggling with addiction. Those are the kind of real actions that will prove the fidelity of tonight’s speech.
Tonight is a promising beginning to an administration where kids count. We look forward to a state budget that demonstrates that commitment.
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.