Mara Powell

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

Kentucky’s kids and families won – and won big today when Governor Andy Beshear named Marta Miranda-Straub as Commissioner of the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS). Marta has been my friend and colleague for a decade, as we have partnered on efforts like the Kosair Charities’ Face It Movement. In that time, I have come to respect her as a leader with intellect and soulfulness.

Leadership at DCBS has never been more critical: The implementation of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act and the 2018 Kentucky House Bill 1 are still at play. COVID-19 pandemic and the growing awareness of systemic inequities present unparalleled challenges and opportunities. We are learning more and more about the power of cornerstone practices like prevention and trauma-informed care.

Important and substantative progress has been made over the last several years. And yet, let’s be clear. Kentucky – like so many states – has a child welfare system in which supports for kinship care families and youth transitioning out of the care of the system are inadequate. Quality assurance from region to region is missing. The workforce is too thin and under far too much pressure. Incidences of abuse and neglect are far too high. Intervening factors like poverty and addiction are sweeping the landscape of the Commonwealth.

That kind of environment means that our kids and families deserve a DBCS Commissioner with imagination and rigor, innovation and accountability, and the capacity to be soft of heart on one hand and hard as nails on the other. That aptly describes Marta Miranda-Straub and the leadership style Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander has personified.

Governor Beshear delivered for the most vulnerable children and youth in the Commonwealth because he delivered Marta Miranda-Straub as DCBS Commissioner.

Kentucky Youth Advocates once honored Marta for continuing to stick her neck out for kids, and this new position will require a lot of sticking your neck out! We need a revolution rather than incrementalism, and Marta Miranda-Straub can be that revolutionary.


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