14 Jan 2021 Face It Movement State Policy and Budget Priorities
By Cortney Downs, Policy and Advocacy Director, Kentucky Youth Advocates
In 2020, Dr. Melissa Currie, Medical Director and Chief of the Kosair Charities Division of Pediatric Forensic Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, said that “strong state policies and sufficient budget investments can lead to profound impacts for kids, families and communities.” With the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly underway in Frankfort, the Kosair Charities Face It Movement has a number of state and budget priorities that seek to maintain or increase critical funding for evidence-based programs and services; and to ensure disclosures of child abuse are reported appropriately and investigated.
Face It is advocating for continued or increased investments in the following programs to keep kids safe and support families:
- When children cannot remain safely with their parents, relatives, or kinship caregivers, often step up to raise them with little notice or time for preparation. Investments in front-end services and supports, like respite care, need to be prioritized as does ensuring that every kinship caregiver receives the Relative Placement Support benefit, a one-time financial support that is used for purchasing essential items for the child or children in their care.
- Substance use is a major factor for over half of all children removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. With continued funding for Kentucky Strengthening Ties and Empowering Parents (K-STEP) and the Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Team (START) programs, parents can achieve sobriety while safely caring for their children.
- When a child has experienced physical or sexual abuse or neglect, they often turn to the pediatric forensic medical teams based out of Kentucky Children’s Hospital and the University of Louisville and one of the 15 child advocacy centers. With Kentucky having the highest rates of child abuse and neglect in the country, increasing state funding for child abuse pediatricians is vital to ensuring that children across the state have access to these critical services when they need them.
- When expectant parents have access to evidence-based home visiting programs like the Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) program early in their pregnancy, incidences of child abuse are lower and accessing adequate prenatal care increases. Continued funding ensures new parents have access to this critical service.
- Ensure that safety net programs that provide financial support for basic needs, like food and health care, are not modified in ways that keep children from receiving them.
Face It is advocating for the following commonsense policy changes that will help keep children safe:
- Research shows that children who experience abuse often wait years to disclose it. Extending the current statute of limitations timeframe for misdemeanor sexual abuse offenses occurring before their 18th birthday would allow for delayed disclosures and create a path to justice for victims of sexual abuse.
- Remove the clergy-penitent privilege exemption from the child maltreatment reporting law to ensure that if child abuse is disclosed or suspected it is reported to the appropriate authorities.
- Eliminate “chain of command” reporting laws within public and private agencies to ensure any disclosures of abuse are reported accurately, in a timely manner, and directly to the proper authorities.