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Childhood advocates react to legislative session wins and losses

Kentucky Youth Advocates

The dust has settled on the 2024 legislative session and officials from sectors across the Commonwealth are reacting to bills that passed and ones that didn’t. It includes representatives from Kentucky Youth Advocates, or KYA.

Among the issues they were watching was legislation regarding keeping kids safe in schools. Officials said the subject is regularly discussed in Frankfort but that hasn’t led to the positive change they want to see.

Terry Brooks, Executive Director of KYA, said House Bill 275 and Senate Bill 181 were two pieces of legislation that would make schools safer. 275 didn’t make it to the governor’s desk and 181 never made it out of committee.

“I think it’s really important to say that historically, for the last decade, we have seen many, many successes around kids. What concerns me is, I genuinely believe that that trajectory is going the opposite way,” said Brooks.

Brooks said support for important child-related issues was once strong but has been waning in recent years.

“Those core issues of juvenile justice, K-12 education, support for early childhood, we’ve got to be able to do more than has been done the last couple sessions. What’s the famous movie line, long ago in a galaxy far away, long ago in a galaxy 10 years away, a decade ago, kids were a prominent and dominant theme that the general assembly acted on,” said Brooks.

Brooks said many important issues were brought to the legislative table this session, but none of them were given the necessary time. He said issues included decreasing childhood access to vaping products and preventing the perpetuation of childhood abuse.

Bills that did pass included efforts to improve teacher retention and support for kinship caregivers.