When KY House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D) addressed Necco staff and foster families at the annual Children’s Advocacy Day in Frankfort on January 16, he stressed how not too long ago he was just another regular school kid from Kentucky- just like the foster youth in the room.
He explained his role as Majority Floor Leader and the challenges the Kentucky legislature currently faces. He laughed and smiled as some kids asked for a photograph with him after his talk. It was a treat for the group to meet and talk to someone who plays such an important role in making decisions that affect the work we do with Kentucky’s families.
The special time with Representative Adkins was one of several notable events to take place during Children’s Advocacy Day. In anticipation of KY Governor Steve Beshear’s scheduled announcement regarding budget plans for the coming year the rotunda was filled with media personnel and various constituent groups, forecasting what programs and initiatives were going to face cuts. To be sure there are more programs than there are funds to keep them all, which means the legislature is often faced with making tough choices about the state’s financial priorities. Because child welfare has been on the receiving end of such cuts in the past, Necco’s message to the 2014 legislature was to spare these vital services from the chopping block, and to demonstrate that our programs actually save the state money—in both the long and short term.
Necco also received a surprise visit from Rep. Susan Westrom (D) from the 79th District in Lexington. Susan, who is the lead proponent of and the driving force behind the smoking cessation bills in KY, is a unique advocate for child welfare because she is a former social worker. She understands the work our staff does on a daily basis, and is thus able to give child welfare a strong voice in the Capitol. Throughout the day Necco met one-on-one with many other legislators, each of them from different industries and counties around Kentucky. Although they all had their own unique perspective, our message remained the same. At each meeting, we talked about the importance of our work for Kentucky’s children and families. One thing everyone seemed to agree on was that child and family welfare is at the root of many other social issues such as crime, poverty, and education—and thus, our work with Kentucky’s children and families is paramount to helping fix these other issues.
Necco staff and foster parents had a wonderful day in Frankfort. Children’s Advocacy Day once again sparked the conversation between lawmakers and child advocates about why the services we provide are so vital to Kentucky’s kids and families. It was a day of two-way education, and a unique opportunity for those outside politics to gain some insight into the political process. We can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.