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Celebrating the Ceremonial Signing of New Legislation to Address Child Abuse in Kentucky

For immediate release: June 8, 2022

Contact:
Mara Powell
mpowell@kyyouth.org

Celebrating the Ceremonial Signing of New Legislation to Address Child Abuse in Kentucky

Governor and State Lawmakers Join Kentucky Youth Advocates & Kosair Charities Face It Movement Partners for Ceremonial Signing of SB 8 and HB 263

LOUISVILLE, KY – Today, Kentucky Youth Advocates and partners in the Kosair Charities Face It Movement joined Governor Andy Beshear and state leaders for the ceremonial bill signings of Senate Bill 8 and House Bill 263. Both newly enacted laws will improve efforts across the child welfare continuum – from child maltreatment prevention to investigation and prosecution to healing and out-of-home care.

“SB 8 and HB 263 reminds us that kids can be the common ground in the Commonwealth, especially when it comes to child welfare. We thank Senator Raque Adams and Speaker Osborne for championing these measures, which are significant as they symbolize the concurrent need to focus on innovative preventative measures while toughening measures for those who perpetrate child abuse,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “Child welfare is an arena that has shown progress across administrations and across legislative sessions. We must sustain that momentum through discreet policy changes, state budget investments, and a shared commitment to Kentucky’s kids!”

Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Senator Julie Raque Adams, establishes new membership of the State Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, broadens the definition of fictive kin, expands Medicaid reimbursement eligibility for professionals who provide critical services at Children’s Advocacy Centers, and expands opportunities for youth aging out of foster care to extend care. The legislation also clarifies neglect versus poverty by defining neglect as a parent or guardian not providing a child adequate care, supervision, and basic needs when they are financially able to do so.

“SB 8 was a milestone for youth in care. Not only have we finally separated poverty from neglect, but we are continuing to give youth in care the rights that they deserve and options for support after age 18,” said Tamara Vest, Independent Living Coordinator with the Kentucky Voices of the Commonwealth.

“In the unfortunate occurrence of child abuse, families need a safe place to turn to for services and support. Kentucky’s Children’s Advocacy Centers, including the one on our campus, serve as that resource for children to receive comprehensive medical exams and other services in a trauma-informed way so that the healing process can begin. With SB 8 in place, these centers now have the financial backing necessary to best serve these children and family members,” said Pam Darnall, CEO of Family and Children’s Place.

House Bill 263, sponsored by Speaker of the House David Osborne and Representative C. Ed Massey, increases penalties for perpetrators if the victim of criminal abuse is under 12 years of age. HB 263 is known as Kami’s Law, created and advocated for by 7th grader Kiera Dunk in honor of her friend Kami, who suffers life-long challenges due to abuse she suffered as an infant.

“When I learned about the abuse my friend Kami experienced when she was a baby, I knew I had to do something to make sure adults who harm young children face stricter consequences. With the support of Speaker Osborne, Governor Beshear, and the General Assembly, Kami’s Law is now enacted in Kentucky. No other baby should go through what Kami experienced,” said Kiera Dunk.

“We at Kosair Charities understand that to protect kids we need the multi-pronged approach of the Face It Movement, including promoting best practices, building community awareness, and advocating for state policy change. That is why we are thankful for the leadership and dedication of Senator Raque Adams, Speaker Osborne, and experts on the Face It policy team who ensured these bills can make the greatest impacts in child maltreatment prevention and in a victims’ healing. Each of us have a continued role to play in preventing incidences of abuse from ever happening so that children can grow up safe, healthy, and hopeful for a bright future,” said Ken Reiss, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Kosair Charities.

SB 8 and HB 263 were supported by the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children and the Face It Movement policy team.

Family and Children’s Place hosted the Governor, bill sponsors, partners in the Kosair Charities Face It Movement, members of the Kentucky Voices of the Commonwealth, and other child advocates for the ceremonial bill signings of SB 8 and HB 263 at their downtown Louisville campus.

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About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at www.kyyouth.org.

About the Kosair Charities Face It Movement 
The Face It Movement launched in 2013 as an initiative led by Kosair Charities in response to the number of child abuse deaths in the Commonwealth. Face It focuses on a three-pronged approach to addressing child abuse and neglect: promote best practices in child abuse prevention and intervention, build awareness and engage the community, and advocate for effective policies to improve the child welfare system. Learn more at faceitmovement.org.