2023 marks the third year of Kentucky’s participation as a child welfare jurisdiction site for the Thriving Families, Safer Children movement. With the recent addition of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the national partnership roster, the Thriving Families, Safer Children Kentucky effort continues to make strides toward rethinking how America protects children and supports families. 

What can we expect from Thriving Families, Safer Children Kentucky this year? 

Advancing Racial and Ethnic Equity

Thriving Families, Safer Children recognizes disproportionality and disparate outcomes as historic challenges in the child welfare system. The Kentucky site team has been committed to analyzing state data to inform targeted discussions on incorporating a racial equity lens throughout its priorities. 

As part of this effort, young adults with foster care experience have been leading Truth Telling Circles with the goal of shaping a new narrative around rightsizing concepts of safety, protection, and belonging. Stay tuned for updates on those community-based efforts.

Promoting the Perspectives of Families and Young People

Thriving Families, Safer Children knows that centering the voices of youth and families with lived experience is critical to creating a more just and equitable system.

One opportunity for parents with former child welfare involvement to collaborate with decisionmakers in Kentucky is KY SEAT (Kentucky System Experience At the Table). Through this statewide council, emerging parent leaders have gotten the chance to advocate to reduce the stigma of common issues parents face and to differentiate areas of need from abuse and neglect. They are using their voices as lived experts to share the message that all families need help sometimes and deserve compassion, understanding, and support. 

Recently, KY SEAT made its first public appearance during Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol, where they met directly with Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) leadership. The Council also introduced a new flyer, as well as launched a closed social media group to continue its mission of providing support to families across Kentucky, so no parent feels alone. 

Strengthening Community-based Supports 

Thriving Families, Safer Children believes in the strength of families – and families are stronger together. When communities support families’ needs, we can avoid unnecessary separation and keep children safely in their own homes. It is an essential aspect of this work to bring youth and families together along with community-based organizations to communicate what those needs are and co-create a plan for change.

Through regional collaboratives, each of the 9 DCBS service regions has been developing and implementing their regional Action Plans. These plans contain locally specific short-term and long-term goals for community-led strengthening, which is ultimately the most proactive approach toward reducing stressors that could eventually lead to child abuse and neglect. 

Are there any other updates we should know about?

Stay tuned for the launch of a Thriving Families, Safer Children Kentucky webpage with a one-pager which captures all the statewide initiatives linked to this work. 

Coming soon is also the release of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky’s Lean on Me Toolkit, encouraging all of us to become a community supporter and be someone others – parents and caregivers especially – can lean on.