Wins for Kids

We’ve had many wins for kids by passing policies that will benefit children and families with the help of state leaders and gracious support from our donors.

2023 Wins

  • Senate Bill 48, among other things, establishes a more independent Ombudsman office for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to help ensure that child welfare cases and maltreatment reports are being investigated to their full extent without conflict of interest.

  • Senate Bill 135 requires the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to make publicly available information and an assessment tool on postpartum depression and other related perinatal mental health disorders.
  • Senate Bill 162 strengthens data tracking of the Department of Juvenile Justice, access to mental health treatments for youth in detention, training of staff, and funds to support changes, among other things.
  • Senate Bill 229 ensures that if maltreatment is suspected of an employee of a reporting agency, it must be reported accurately and in a timely manner directly to an appropriate external reporting agency; clarifies that agencies cannot utilize a chain of command process so that reports are made directly from the professional who suspects abuse with key details and insight around the alleged maltreatment; allows the Department for Community Based Services to do an assessment rather than an investigation, when appropriate, as a means to strengthen prevention and early intervention efforts and build a more collaborative relationship with the family facing an investigation; and takes steps to establish an Agency Representation Model to improve efficiency within the child welfare system by allowing the transfer of case hearings to the Office of Legal Services within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
  • House Bill 21 allows unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness to get an ID without parental permission.

2022 Wins

  • Senate Bill 8 establishes membership of the State Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, clarifies the definition of neglect, ensures victims of child maltreatment have access to critical medical examinations, and expands the definition of fictive kin and opportunities for youth aging out of foster care.

  • Senate Bill 97 requires coroners to immediately notify law enforcement, the Department for Community Based Services, and local health department upon the death of a child and strengthens the External Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Panel.
  • Senate Bill 102 requires schools to provide a yearly census of the school-based mental health providers to help ensure students can access needed services.
  • Senate Bill 151 allows school districts the option to serve students on free and reduced meals their breakfast during the first 15 minutes of the day.
  • Senate Bill 178 extends Medicaid eligibility for new mothers for up to 12 months postpartum so they can have continuous, uninterrupted access to health care.
  • House Bill 499 establishes the infrastructure for the Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership program to improve access to child care.

2021 Wins

  • Senate Bill 32 eliminates the mandatory transfer of youth ages 14 and older to adult court for situations involving a firearm.
  • Senate Bill 84 supports the health and well-being of pregnant mothers who are incarcerated and their babies.
  • Senate Bill 148 amends local planning and zoning laws to allow regulated home-based family child care options.
  • House Bill 472 strengthens the statute of limitations timeframes for misdemeanor sexual abuse offenses.

2020 Wins

  • Senate Bill 40 will close the gaps in fingerprint background checks and better protect children in foster care by requiring foster care agencies to screen their employees for criminal charges.
  • Senate Bill 45 will strengthen licensed child care program standards on healthy eating and drinking, active play, and screen time.
  • Senate Bill 56 will ensure Kentucky complies with the federal minimum legal sale age for all tobacco products and eliminate purchase, use, and possession penalties for youth up to age 21 so children and teens can grow into healthier adults
  • House Bill 32 will enact a state excise tax on e-cigarettes to help prevent use among youth.

2019 Wins

  • Senate Bill 1 will increase student safety and access to behavioral health services in schools.
  • House Bill 2 will improve state supports and data reporting for kinship caregivers.
  • House Bill 11 will enact a statewide tobacco-free school campus policy.
  • House Bill 158 will establish a bill of rights for children in foster care and begins to align state child welfare laws with federal laws.

2018 Wins

  • House Bill 1 will keep Kentucky kids safe and improve how the commonwealth responds to child abuse and supports families.
  • House Bill 527 will support the educational stability of children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
  • Senate Bill 133 will improve the outcomes of pregnant inmates and their babies by allowing access to substance use treatment.
  • Senate Bill 137 will allow judges to consider testimony from a trustworthy adult when a child has disclosed abuse to them.

2017 Wins

  • Closed gaps in background checks to keep kids safe – SB236 keeps kids safer from abuse by closing the gaps in background checks of adults working with children in schools, youth camps, and in the home as private babysitters.
  • Helped children who stay on track succeed – SB195 allows youth who stay on track to expunge additional offenses from their records and make the process for expungement automatic.
  • Helped parents leaving incarceration support their families  – SB120 helps parents who have served their time get back to work and care for their children after reentry into the community.
  • Allowed children to stay with an adult they trust when they are removed from their home – HB180 allows close family friends to serve as kinship caregivers when children are removed from their home due to abuse or neglect.

2016 Wins

  • Prevented parents from being held back by past mistakes – HB40 allows for the expungement of lower-level felonies and will help parents get back to work and support their families.
  • Protected victims of child abuse – SB60 better protects child victims of abuse by allowing in court a child’s more generalized testimony of repeated abuse, known as a continuous course of conduct.

2015 Wins

  • Equipped all educators to know how to recognize and report child abuseSB119 ensures all public school educators receive important information about child abuse and neglect so they can help protect children.
  • Protected teens and children from effects of dating violenceHB8 extends protective orders to victims of dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This protects many teens in dating relationships and children whose parents experience violence in dating relationships.
  • Strengthened the child care sector in KentuckyHB429 established a Child Care Council to help ensure working parents have several quality child care options available to them.

2014 Wins

  • Helped low-income working parents pay for child care – Restored funding for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) allowed many parents, many of whom had been dropped from the program due to budget cuts, receive help paying for child care so they can continue to work to support their families.
  • Improved Kentucky’s response to and outcomes for youth who make mistakes – Prior to the passage of SB200, Kentucky locked up children in jail for minor things like skipping school and running away from home at one of the highest rates in the nation. SB200 will help address problems youth face when they begin to arise and provide needed services to youth and their families to get youth back on track for success.
  • Helped children raised by relatives access health care and educationSB176 allows kinship caregivers without legal guardianship to sign a form indicating they are the primary caregiver of a child in order for the child to receive health care or enroll in school.
  • Helped reduce child deaths from pediatric abusive head traumaHB157 will help equip doctors with education on how to recognize early warning signs of pediatric abusive head trauma and intervene.
  • Secured funding for the child fatality review panel – Funding for the panel will allow it to more closely review child abuse death tragedies and develop recommendations to help prevent future deaths from occurring.
  • Initial support for relatives raising kin children – Funding will provide assistance to caregivers when children first come in their care to buy necessities such as a bed or clothes.
  • Helped increase the availability of school based oral health services – The passage of SB159 will allow schools to more easily implement school based oral health programs to help meet dental needs of their children.
  • Support for children to receive preventive oral health care – Funding for oral health will ensure children receive preventive oral health services such as varnishes and sealants to improve oral health across the state.

2013 Wins

  • Successfully advocated for a panel to reduce child abuse deaths – Kentucky Youth Advocates worked hard on the successful passage of HB290 passed in 2013, which put into law a panel to review child abuse deaths, improve practices in the child welfare system, and prevent future child abuse deaths.
  • Helped victims of human trafficking – The passage of HB3 during the 2013 General Assembly will ensure that victims of trafficking, especially children exploited in commercial sex, will be treated as victims rather than as criminals and be given access to healing services.

2012 Wins

  • Helped youth in foster care transition to adulthood – The passage of SB213 allows foster care youth at age 18 to have a full year to decide whether to stay in the care of the state until they turn 21, which came at the request from foster youth themselves. The bill also changed the name of the process from “recommitting” to “transitional living supports” to take away any negative connotations associated with staying in the care of the state after age 18.
  • Improved quality of alternative education – The successful passage of HB168 prohibits superintendents from assigning teachers or staff to an alternative program as the result of a disciplinary action. This bill helped promote quality education for the 45,000 youth in district-operated alternative programs.
  • Raised awareness of youth justice issues – The passage of House Concurrent Resolution HCR129 created a taskforce to take an in-depth look at a number of aspects of the juvenile justice system, including the practice of locking up youth for misbehaviors like skipping school and running away.
  • Increased access to recreational facilities – The successful passage of SB110 encourages more schools to open up their facilities to the community by extending the same protections from liability that they have during the school day if someone gets hurt while on school property after school hours. This will ultimately help reduce obesity as community members will have more places to exercise.

Wins prior to 2012

  • Reduced rate of uninsured children – We successfully campaigned the Governor to take steps to simplify the enrollment process and increase outreach to children eligible for the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program.
  • Improved oral health – With our support, a bill ensuring children enrolling in kindergarten get a dental screening or exam to address oral health problems passed in 2008.
  • Increased child safety through booster seats –  The passage of a bill in 2008 ensured children who are too big for infant seats but too small for regular seats are in a safe booster seat in order to reduce the risk of crash injuries.
  • Improved school response to bullying – In 2008, Kentucky Youth Advocates supported passage of a bill which requires the state Department of Education to craft discipline guidelines for bullying. The bill also requires local school authorities to alert law enforcement when school harassment involves a potential felony.
  • Improved Kentucky’s child sex abuse laws to better protect children – In 2008, Kentucky Youth Advocates supported passage of House Bill 211 which broadened Kentucky’s child sex abuse laws while increasing penalties for abusers and those who fail to report abuse. The bill includes older children under state laws that protect minors from first-degree sexual abuse by raising the age of children covered by the law from 12 to 16, or 16 to 18, if the perpetrator is in a position of trust or authority.
  • Reduced teen deaths – Kentucky Youth Advocates worked on a Graduated Drivers License (GDL) bill that would ease Kentucky teens’ transition from passengers to drivers.  A new GDL law went into effect on October 1, 2006 and the Kentucky teen death rate has since declined.
  • Closed loopholes in the Captive Real Estate Investment Trust- Kentucky Youth Advocates supported the passage of House Bill 258 which disallows the dividend paid deduction to captive real estate investment trusts (REITS).  The new law closes a loophole and will provide an estimated $20 million to the state’s revenues annually.
  • Raised the minimum wage – Kentucky Youth Advocates co-chaired the Raise the Wage Coalition to increase the state’s minimum wage.  House Bill 305 became law, increasing Kentucky’s minimum wage of $5.15 an hour by $2.10 in 2008 and 2009. The wage went up to $5.85 an hour on June 26,2007, $6.55 an hour on July 1, 2008 and $7.25 an hour on July 1, 2009.