Advocates for children will gather in Frankfort this week to push for policies that benefit children and families. On Thursday, hundreds will rally to urge legislators to consider boosting child-care assistance and enact a state-level refundable Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families, among other reforms.
Whitley County High School senior Nellie Ellis plans to attend the rally. She said young people are paying attention to lawmakers’ actions. “I think it’s also impactful for legislators to see people my age being so passionate about these issues,” Ellis said. “We share stories that we’ve experienced or those that come from other kids that we know. And that really speaks to the legislators.” Children’s Advocacy Day begins at 10 a.m. Thursday in the State Capitol rotunda. More information is available at kyyouth.org.
Patricia Tennen, chief operating officer at Kentucky Youth Advocates, said she hopes state legislators will expand successful programs such as Hands Home Visiting, which provides guidance to new parents and has been proven to reduce child abuse and neglect. “Kids can’t vote. They can’t choose their elected leaders. They can’t pass laws,” Tennen said. “So, it’s up to adults to make wise choices on their behalf and to uplift their voices in Frankfort.”
Tennen said Kentucky has one of the nation’s highest rates of children raised by grandparents and other relatives. And she said the state needs policies, including respite care and financial support, to help kinship families raise healthy and happy children. “We think that these kind of smart investments and using those resources for our kids is going to then save us money down the road,” she said. She said legislators also could close a gap in state law related to how agencies report suspected incidents of child abuse and neglect. In 2018, more than 24,000 Kentucky children were victims of abuse.