In an age of advanced technology, hand-held videogames and all the many electronic gadgets that are available to our children, it’s hard to reconcile the relative wants of most children with the extreme needs that still exist for many.
Today I addressed hundreds of activists who advocate on behalf of children’s needs at the 7th Annual Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol.
Throughout my career, I too have fought for Kentucky’s children and their families and have continued to do so as Governor.
Recent headlines have broadcast acts of cruelty among children based on bigotry and have spurred nation-wide “anti-bullying” campaigns. Back in April 2008, I signed “The Golden Rule Act”—legislation that required “anti-bullying” policies to be put in state public schools to prevent harassment and forms of intimidation among students, including cyber-bullying.
This legislative session one of my top priorities, and one that has been championed by our First Lady, is HB 225, the Graduation Bill—a measure that raises the mandatory high school attendance age to 18.
Passing HB225 will not only increase the number of high school graduates, but it will send a message to our children that education is a priority and the foundation of their future success.
And in order for a child to educate their mind, they need to have a healthy body.
Since Nov. ‘08, we’ve stepped up efforts to ensure health coverage for our poorest children. To date, we have tracked down and enrolled almost 52,000 children who were eligible for coverage through programs like the Kentucky Children Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) and Medicaid.
At the same time, we have made great strides toward addressing fundamental problems in Kentucky that increase health care costs as a whole—including obesity, smoking and dental problems in our children.
Recently, we expanded the Kentucky Tobacco Quit Line to offer counseling services to younger Kentuckians between age 15 and 17. Previously, the service was available to those over 18.
In 2009, we launched a 3 year initiative to improve quality and access to dental care, especially for the children of Eastern Kentucky.
And this year, I proposed legislation to establish a Kentucky Child Abuse and Neglect Fatality Review Panel because the loss of a child at the hands of an abuser or as a result of neglect is unconscionable.
Still yet, we can do much more for our children.
As a father and grandfather, it’s heartbreaking to know that there are kids who will go to bed hungry or sick; children who don’t have a bed to sleep in or a parent or caregiver who doesn’t take an interest in their child’s school work.
Together we can and must work to make Kentucky a place where all children can get the healthy start they require, the education they deserve and the overall proper care they need to be happy, productive citizens of this Commonwealth.