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Kentuckians Unite for Kids at State Capitol

Kentucky legislators gathered with kids on Thursday to celebrate youth advocacy. (Kentucky Advocates for Youth)
Kentucky legislators gathered with kids on Thursday to celebrate youth advocacy. (Kentucky Advocates for Youth)
January 19, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Dozens of Kentucky kids put their future in their own hands on Thursday, as they joined state leaders and others for the 14th annual Children's Advocacy Day at the Capitol.

Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates Dr. Terry Brooks said it was a day to unite and rally on behalf of children's safety, health, education, and economic well-being.

"Champions for children learn the art of advocacy by meeting with representatives and Senators and sharing what kind of polices and what kinds of issues are in their head and on their heart," he said.

Cynthia Schepers of Louisville, formerly in foster care, said it was encouraging to see so many kids involved.

"It's so important for youth to be advocates, because they all come from different stories and different walks of life,” said Schepers. “And so, no matter what situation you're going through, you'll have someone you can connect to."

Kids and their advocates spoke with state leaders about policy priorities in the Blueprint for Kentucky's Children 2018 Agenda. It includes keeping kids safe from abuse and neglect, and juvenile justice reforms that can help better support families and build safer communities.

Schepers kicked off Thursday's rally by sharing her story, and thanking those who dedicate their time to helping Kentucky's kids.

"Youth need just something stable in their lives,” said Schepers later. “It doesn't matter whether or not it's their education, or a mentor or a social worker that they can connect to, but they need something stable that they can hold on to and trust."

Brooks added that a major part of the 2018 session is the state budget. He was pleased that the governor wants to bolster supports for child welfare, but noted that now is when the hard work begins.

"In the weeks ahead, that budget is realistically going to get sliced and diced, so we're going to have to make sure that kids continue to be a priority in whatever budget emerges from the General Assembly for the governor's signature," said Brooks.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY