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Kentucky Youth Advocates hold Children’s Advocacy Day at Capitol to address budget, policy priorities

With the 2024 Kentucky legislative session well underway in Frankfort, advocates across the Commonwealth are joining together to lift kids’ voices during Children’s Advocacy Week. They are advocating for the state budget and policy priorities addressed in the 2024 Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children to elected leaders.

On Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol Wednesday community organizations, professionals who work with kids and families, and young people from across the Commonwealth gathered to meet with their legislators, attend committee meetings, and rally for children in the Capitol Rotunda.

Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol (Staff photo)

Kentucky Youth Advocates celebrated the 20th Children’s Advocacy Day and recognized the continued involvement of partners and state leaders in making Kentucky the best place in America to be a kid.

“For 20 years, advocates have gathered in Frankfort to raise their voices for Kentucky kids. The halls of the Capitol are filled with youth, parents, social workers, faith leaders, teachers, pediatricians, child care providers, community leaders, and many others urging legislators to find common ground and to vote with the well-being of children in mind. Kentucky’s over one million kids deserve to be heard and prioritized in decisions,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

During the Rally for Kentucky Kids, Governor Andy Beshear, Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens, and House Health Services Committee Chair Representative Kim Moser, joined Kentucky Youth Advocates and spoke to the crowd of hundreds of youth and caring adults. Youth also shared their stories of advocacy and urged leaders and advocates to prioritize the well-being of all Kentucky’s children.

Amelia Williams, member of KYA’s Health Youth Ambassador program, shared her impactful testimony of how the drug epidemic, child welfare system, and Western Kentucky tornadoes have touched her family’s life during opening remarks of the Rally for Kentucky Kids.

Gov. Beshear at Children’s Advocacy Day. (Staff photo)

Amelia said, “I wanted to be able to be a leader and voice for the youth. I believed I could use my lived experience and desire for change to help create a better future for Kentucky kids. I’m grateful to be speaking here today in front of Governor Beshear and leadership from the General Assembly as I can attest to the impact of their decisions on my family and community.”

Throughout the day, Kentucky Youth Advocates and the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children presented the Champion for Children Awards, which honored state legislators and young people for their leadership of priorities in the 2023 Kentucky General Assembly.

The following were honored:

• Representative Randy Bridges, champion of House Bill 21 of 2023
• Senator Julie Raque Adams, champion of Senate Bill 229 of 2023
• Senator Danny Carroll, champion of Senate Bill 162 of 2023
• Senator Shelley Funke Frommeyer, champion of Senate Bill 135 of 2023
• Senator Stephen Meredith, champion of Senate Bill 48 of 2023
• Leondrea Johnson, young adult advocate, REFORM Louisville
• Dequantay Smith, young adult advocate, REFORM Louisville
• Kiera Dunk, youth advocate for child abuse prevention

Kentucky Youth Advocates also honored Senator Danny Carroll with the Infrastructure for Kids Award for his tireless commitment to strengthen Kentucky’s child care infrastructure. Senator Whitney Westerfield was honored with The Frank Harshaw Thermostat Award for his dedication and leadership to improving the outcomes of those impacted by the juvenile justice system.

In addition to Children’s Advocacy Day events, participants can hear from Family and Children Committee chairs, Education Committee leaders, Frankfort lobbyists, and network with other advocates throughout the week. Individuals and groups have been encouraged to meet with their elected officials to discuss the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities, including increased housing stability, investments in the child care infrastructure, enforcement of Tobacco-21 laws to prevent youth vaping, creating a continuum of care for youth in the juvenile justice system, among others.

NKY Rep. Kim Moser spoke to the group. (Staff photo)

Children’s Advocacy Week is made possible through the generosity of sponsors. Aetna Better Health of Kentucky is the signature sponsor for Children’s Advocacy Week.

“We are proud to once again partner with KYA as the signature sponsor of Children’s Advocacy Week at the Capitol,” said Aetna Better Health of Kentucky CEO Paige Franklin Mankovich. “Strong families, protection from harm, economic security, high quality education—these are all factors in addition to ‘good health’ that affect the total well-being of children across Kentucky. As policymakers debate these issues and more, young people deserve the opportunity to add their voices to the conversation and affect meaningful change.”

Other sponsors include Save the Children, AT&T Kentucky, Bellewood & Brooklawn, Family Enrichment Center, Seven Counties Services, Bloom Kentucky, Bounce, Child Care Council of Kentucky, Children’s Alliance, CHNK Behavioral Health, ECHO, Face It, Family & Children’s Place, Family Nurturing Center, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Holly Hill Child & Family Solutions, Kentucky CASA Network, Kentucky Oral Health Coalition, Kentucky’s Voices for Early Childhood, Kinship Families Coalition of Kentucky, Kosair for Kids, Learning Grove, Maryhurst, Metro United Way, Mountain Comprehensive Care Center, National Council of Jewish Women Louisville Section, Pathways Inc., Save the Children Action Network, True Up, United Healthcare Community Plan of Kentucky, UK Healthcare, UofL Health Peace Hospital, Volunteers of America Mid-States, and WellCare.

For more information, visit kyyouth.org/childrens-advocacy-week/. For more information about the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children visit kyyouth.org/blueprintky/.

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