Four Bills the General Assembly Is Moving That Would Benefit Kentucky Children and Families

Republished from Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

Kentucky’s kids and their families’ health and economic well-being would benefit greatly from several bills making their way through the General Assembly right now. These proposals would improve maternal health, provide paid parental leave to state employees, make it easier to start and operate a child care center, and improve the affordability and quality of that care.  Such policies have either been successfully implemented in neighboring states, such as paid parental leave for state employees, or have worked here in Kentucky but are expiring, such as various child care improvements.  

House Bill (HB) 10, sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser.  Often referred to as the “Momnibus” bill, this legislation would enact several policies aimed at improving child and maternal wellbeing. It adds pregnancy as a qualifying event for enrolling in a health insurance plan, creates a hotline to assist mothers experiencing mental health crises, expands the successful HANDS home visitation for new and expecting parents to include new services and telehealth options, and strengthens an advisory council that helps provide policy recommendations for further action. HB 10 has passed out of the full House and is now with the Senate for consideration.

HB  561, sponsored by Rep. Samara Heavrin. This legislation seeks to help local governments pave the way for new child care providers in their areas. Through the Economic Development Cabinet, local governments could receive technical assistance on how to reduce barriers for child care center operation including zoning policies and land-use issues. The bill would also help raise awareness about what child care options are available in a community. With half of Kentucky kids living in a child care desert and the long-term decline in our child care industry, increased options are vital for Kentucky families. Some child care providers, particularly those that offer regulated care through their homes, have difficulty navigating zoning policies and other technical requirements, and this proposal would help lower those barriers to entry. HB 561 has passed the House and is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate Families and Children Committee. 

Senate Bill (SB) 142, sponsored by Sen. Amanda Mays Bledsoe. In an effort to attract and retain a professional public sector workforce, SB 142 would provide four weeks of paid parental leave for full-time state employees with at least a year of employment. This leave would be eligible for birth, surrogacy and adoption. It also offers two weeks of paid leave for foster or kinship care placement. Paid parental leave is proven to improve both infant and maternal health and well-being – including breastfeeding and vaccination rates, maternal mental health and employee retention. SB 142 has been passed in the Senate and awaits a committee assignment in the House.

SB 203, sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll. The “Horizons Act” is a major step forward in how Kentucky supports its early childhood education sector, especially child care providers. Through approximately $150 million in annual new state investment, SB 203 would allow child care centers to retain much of what they would otherwise lose in enhanced federal funding, which fully expires later this year. The bill includes direct stipends to providers, improvements to the eligibility and reimbursements for child care assistance, and employee retention programs. Additionally, it creates new grants for innovative delivery models, to add new child care capacity in the state and for higher education scholarships for early childhood learning. Without new state fiscal support for these policies, child care providers say they will raise tuition, cut wages, lay off staff and/or close their doors. SB 203 was approved by the Senate Children and Families committee and will now be heard in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue committee.   

The post Four Bills the General Assembly Is Moving That Would Benefit Kentucky Children and Families appeared first on Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

Republished from Kentucky Center for Economic Policy