Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
LOUISVILLE, KY – As Governor Andy Beshear shared during tonight’s State of the Commonwealth address, this state budget proposal gives Kentucky families a life preserver in the immediate and is a catalyst to creating a post-pandemic commonwealth where all kids can thrive.
We are pleased to see that this budget embraces commitments that our legislative leaders and Governor share when it comes to creating brighter futures for children. The budget addresses key issues such as protecting kids from abuse, providing mental services in schools, and closing gaps in health coverage for children and families.
A few immediate key takeaways that are neither urban nor rural, conservative nor liberal, but are common ground for our commonwealth:
- Financial relief for families and small businesses as the economy recovers from the profound impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will help families from slipping even deeper into poverty
- Fully funding Medicaid with a commitment to addressing inequities in health care access
- Continued focus on the critical role of school-based mental health services for children
- Investment in broadband infrastructure across the commonwealth to allow families to access virtual school and telehealth care resources
- Commitment to improving school infrastructure and increasing the per-pupil SEEK funding for textbooks and technology
- Supporting our most vulnerable children and families by dedicating funds for additional social workers for Child Protective Services
- Important investments in community health and well-being, such as funding for health departments, improved local drinking water, and the sustainability of child advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters
These are budget recommendations to celebrate to be sure. Yet, as the legislature crafts the final state budget, we must also see a commitment to some of our most vulnerable families: our kinship families, our families overcoming addiction through substance use treatment and family preservation programs, our struggling families who turn to Family Resource and Youth Service Coordinators (FRYSCs) in schools, and our young families who utilize home-visiting programs or need access to affordable child care, just to name a few.
The state budget process is a complicated one and at its core are basic views of government and state imperatives. Therefore, we expect and respect what is a vigorous and robust back and forth between the House of Representative, the Senate, and the Governor. And we are hopeful that the back and forth places an emphasis on kids, their families, and principled pragmatism.
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.