By Randy Coy
Unless Kentucky lawmakers take action soon, children across the state will lose out on $9.2 million in matching federal dollars to care for victims of child abuse and neglect. We can't afford to let that happen, the need is simply too great.
Securing the money would require Kentucky's lawmakers to put a greater priority on the thousands of broken and battered children who have been placed in the state's custody because of parental abuse and neglect.
To get the matching dollars, Kentucky must find an additional $13.5 million in the state's $10 billion annual budget to help the dozens of non-profit agencies that provide love, care and shelter for more than 3,600 children.
That's setting aside five more quarters from a bucket filled with 4,000 quarters for some of the most damaged and desperate children in our hometowns.
We at Kentucky United Methodist Homes for Children and Youth are proud to stand up for Kentucky kids on this issue. We join more than 30 non-profit agencies in the Children's Alliance, the voice for Kentucky's most vulnerable children.
Our agencies fulfill Kentucky's mandated responsibility to care for children whose parents haven't properly cared for them. We do the job with trained foster parents and caring professionals on residential campuses across the state.
The Children's Alliance raises nearly $20 million a year from more than 60,000 citizens, businesses, churches and foundations. We work diligently to make sure those dollars — and every dollar we receive — provide the best quality care for the children we serve.
But we are struggling to keep up with the growing demand and increased costs to serve kids in need. Without additional funding, some agencies may be forced to reduce care or shut down.
However, with the additional state and federal funding we seek, agencies will make essential investments in these key areas:
■ In-home family preservation. Working with families in crisis, providing mental health counseling, training in parenting, and other services to keep children safe and preserve families.
■ Therapeutic foster care. Community-based foster care to serve additional children and keep them in or near their hometowns and extended families.
■ Residential services. Provides the most intensive care, such as psychological treatment and medication.
If you believe that Kentucky should invest a little more in our littlest citizens, call or email your state legislators.
To make your voice heard, go to www.lrc.ky.gov and click on the "Who's My Legislator" button. Or call 1-800-372-7181 and leave a message for your legislator.
Tell them you are standing up for thousands of bruised and broken kids across Kentucky. Tell them to invest in our future by investing in our children today.