Kentucky Youth Advocates outlines 2023 goals to help children and families
On the first day of the regular legislative session, Kentucky Youth Advocates outlined priorities to achieve its 2023 goal of making the state “the best place in America to be young.”
Kentucky ranks high for adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, which are traumas or stressors in a person’s life before their 18th birthday. They can include experiencing violence, substance use in the home and more.
Kentucky also has many maternity care deserts, which negatively impact mothers and babies in the earliest moments of their lives.
To address these issues and others, Kentucky Youth Advocates said on Tuesday its policy goals for the year include:
- Support maternal mental health by requiring postpartum depression screenings at appointments after birth.
- Strengthen Kentucky’s families and workforce by conducting a study focused on developing a paid family leave infrastructure that is best suited for the commonwealth.
- Reduce youth vaping and tobacco use by establishing a statewide tobacco retail license that ensure retailers are selling tobacco products only to those 21 years and older.
- Strengthen the juvenile justice system in ways that prioritize community safety and right-size responses to youth behavior, such as implementing an effective continuum of interventions for the system to hold youth accountable and establishing a minimum age — at least 12 years old — that a child can be charged with an offense.
- Ensure victims of intimate partner violence, sexual assault and stalking can access unemployment insurance benefits if their reason for not working is directly related to the violence, assault or stalking.
- Promote housing stability by establishing a process to automatically expunge eviction from families’ records after they have been eviction-free for a reasonable amount of time.
- Eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools to create safer, more nurturing learning environments for students.
- Perform a program review to ensure that A6 educational programs for youth in the care of the Department for Community Based Services and Department of Juvenile Justice are accountable and equitable in terms of learning outcomes, finance, and governance.
- Establish an independent ombudsman that provides oversight of the child-welfare system by investigating concerns of safety and well-being, identifying systemic issues related to administration or practice, and making recommendations for improvements.
- Within child welfare cases, ensure improved timelines to permanency, better understanding of laws and regulations, and improved court processes by transferring all case hearings and needed resources to the Office of Legal Services.
- Close the gaps in reporting of suspected maltreatment to ensure the reporting of child abuse or neglect is properly communicated to the appropriate external agencies, not only the agency who employs the adult suspected of abuse, and investigated.
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