LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Hundreds of youth advocates from across Kentucky are virtually convening this week for Children’s Advocacy Week. According to Kentucky Youth Advocates, they are urging elected leaders to support the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children, a unified agenda for child advocates across the state.
Tuesday, in place of the gathering in the Capitol Rotunda, advocates and state leaders tuned into the first virtual Rally for Kentucky Kids.
“Today, youth, social workers, faith leaders, teachers, pediatricians, child care providers, community leaders, and many others unite to ask our state leaders to make Kentucky children a priority during the 2021 legislative session,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “As the commonwealth works to overcome the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and address systemic racism, kids’ issues are the common ground in which our elected leaders can make state policy and budget decisions that build a brighter future for every Kentuckians.”
Gov. Andy Beshear, House Speaker David Osborne, and Senator Julie Raque Adams joined youth and advocates at the virtual Rally for Kentucky Kids, which included remarks and performances by several Kentucky youth.
The following legislators were honored with 2021 Champion for Children awards for their efforts in the 2020 Kentucky General Assembly:
Senator Ralph Alvarado
Senator Danny Carroll
Senator David Givens
Senator Christian McDaniel
Senator Julie Raque Adams
Senator Whitney Westerfield
Representative Lynn Bechler
Representative Joni Jenkins
Representative David Meade
Representative Jerry Miller
Representative Kimberly Moser
Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty
Representative Steve Riley
The following legislators and state officials were honored with 2020 Census Champion awards for their efforts to ensure a complete census count:
Governor Andy Beshear
Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman
Senate President Robert Stivers
Senators Morgan McGarvey
Representative Attica Scott
CHFS Secretary Eric Friedlander
“I have seen both sides and, let me tell you, the ones who root for kids will be on top. Please remember to stand up for every kid – the lucky, the unlucky, the sad, and the happy,” said Felicity Krueger, high school senior from Adair County. “You never know what one child may be going through, so watch out for all of them no matter what. All kids need someone rooting for them.”
In addition to the rally, advocates and youth are meeting with or hearing comments from legislators and other elected officials throughout the week, including First Lady Britainy Beshear, Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, Secretary of State Michael Adams, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, Department for Community Based Services Commissioner Marta Miranda-Straub, Senator David Givens, Senator Gerald Neal, Senator Reggie Thomas, Senator Whitney Westerfield, Senator Max Wise, Representative Ken Fleming, Representative Joni Jenkins, Representative DJ Johnson, Representative Nima Kulkarni, Representative Kim Moser, Representative Melinda Prunty, and others.
Advocates are pushing for several state policies and budget investments on the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children 2021 agenda, including allowing city and county governments the option to regulate the use, display, sale, and distribution of tobacco products – including e-cigarettes – to curb tobacco use among youth, securing funding to support student mental health, strengthening efforts in child abuse and neglect prevention, building safer communities and brighter futures for kids with more effective responses when children get in trouble, and investing in the infrastructure to close the digital divide.
“As our young people, state leaders, and partner advocates join together throughout Children’s Advocacy Week, I’m reminded of the profound opportunities the Commonwealth has to improve the lives of kids,” said Brooks. “Working across chambers and across political parties has paid off in a big way for kids – we’ve seen it with the bipartisan work towards fundamental child welfare reforms and the comprehensive approach to improving school safety. Our lawmakers must continue that trend when crafting the continuation state budget this legislative session and making decisions for an equitable recovery from the ripple effects of the pandemic.”
For more information about Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol, click HERE.
To learn more about the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children, click HERE.