Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates
LOUISVILLE, KY – Earlier this month as leaders of the Kentucky House and Senate went into Conference Committee, we wrote on the important moment: “When the rubber hits the road.” It’s a moment when the true priorities of the General Assembly come to light as the final state budget for the next two years gets crafted – full of compromise, tough cuts, and bold investments.
The good news today is that the legislature – with compromises and investments championed across the aisle – ensured kids won when the rubber hit the road this budget session.
In the final Conference Committee budget, Kentucky Youth Advocates and partners in the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children are celebrating many priority investments – from education to child safety to health – that will impact kids and families across the Commonwealth:
- Fully funding full day kindergarten to boost our youngest students’ academic achievement and strengthen their social and emotional skills.
- Increased per-pupil SEEK funding so public schools can ensure all students have the resources to learn and thrive.
- Sustained supports for school-based health services, though this was a missed opportunity to boost investments so that school districts can attract and sustain qualified mental health service providers.
- Increased funds for the School Food Services Program so students have access to nutritious meals at school.
- Increased funding for Family Resource and Youth Service Centers (FRYSCs), who work with families to remove barriers to student learning and have been a critical lifeline throughout the pandemic.
- Increased investment in the Department for Community Based Services workforce, as well as funds a creative proposal that could allow workers respite from the frontlines.
- Sustained funding for the HANDS in-home visiting program to ensure this service is available to and utilized by new parents across Kentucky.
- Allocated funding to support a team of child abuse pediatricians and specially trained staff who treat children experiencing abuse and neglect.
- Allocated funding for independent living supports for young people aging out of foster care.
- Prioritized the child care sector by securing a $2 per day child care provider reimbursement rate increase, as well as funds for the Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership to be established with final passage of House Bill 499. We hope the Benefits Cliff Task Force to be established with final passage of House Bill 708 will use the interim to identify permanent funding to sustain an increase for families at 200% FPL.
- Sustained Medicaid and KCHIP funding so children and their families can continue accessing necessary health care services and secured funding to establish a Bridge Health Insurance program so Kentuckians can continue accessing needed health care services. There was a missed opportunity this session to expand funds that boost health insurance enrollment, especially to close gaps in coverage for Latino children. Also, we hope the General Assembly secures final passage of House Bill 174 in the final days of the legislative session to extend Medicaid eligibility for new mothers for up to 12 months postpartum so they can have continuous, uninterrupted access to health care.
- Allocated federal funding to support the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
- Increased funding for domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and Children’s Advocacy Centers, all of which provide vital services to survivors of abuse.
- Allocated funds for the implementation of the new suicide prevention hotline, 988.
In a legislative session of many good bills for kids and several bills that could bring harm, we are hopeful for what this state budget offers to Kentucky children and families.
Stay up-to-date on Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities and other bills that are good for kids on our Kentucky General Assembly Bill Tracker.
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.