Education, adoption issues rise to the forefront for legislature

Published 4:08 pm Friday, February 9, 2018

By DAVID MEADE

State Representative

This past week, the House dove into education issues, including budget matters, and I filed House Bill 1, which is a comprehensive measure providing reforms to our systems of adoption and foster care.

For far too long, many children have been held up in state care, unable to be placed into loving homes due to financial and bureaucratic constraints. I know this issue far too well, not only because of my status as an adopted father, but as the chairman of the House Working Group on Adoption. Our working group spent the better part of 2017 meeting with and listening to stakeholders, including parents, judges and social workers, and those conversations have led us to this point. This proposal seeks to streamline the placement of children into supportive families, ensuring that every child in state custody is on a better track to being placed in a loving home.

Bills designated as House Bill 1 are always done so for a reason. These pieces of legislation are always priority issues in our body, as they deserve the most attention and demonstrate a great need for reform. I look forward to pushing our product through the legislative process, where we will continue to ask and answer questions, and make changes where necessary.

Ultimately, the House will pass legislation that empowers children and families, and puts Kentucky on its way to being a national leader on foster care and adoption issues.

Two key bills which we passed in the House last week include critical measures that will ensure our children are being taught worthwhile, and even life-saving information in school. House Bill 55 directs the Office of Drug Control Policy to craft curriculum on drug abuse awareness and prevention, as part of an effort to teach K-12 students about the growing dangers of the prescription drug epidemic.

The consequences of addictive opioids extend too many different areas, not the least of which is the foster care system, which has become overburdened due to the rising prevalence of addiction. This reality stretches our child welfare agencies even more thinly than they already were — a reality that new money in the budget for our social workers will greatly improve.

Another much-needed education measure is House Bill 132, which would require high school students to take a course on financial literacy as a requirement for receiving a diploma. While many of our schools already do this, this legislation will nonetheless bring an increased focus on personal finances to our children, teaching them the basics of managing money and practicing sound financial principles. This piece of legislation, along with a recently filed bill that would bring a “soft skills” curriculum to our schools, will be a significant step towards improving the lives of our young people, as well as improving our workforce.

I am continuing working with my colleagues to put together a responsible budget that meets all of our obligations. Our budget review subcommittees are meeting every week to review the governor’s proposed budget and look for areas where cuts may need to be restored. The House will then craft a budget proposal, while ensuring that we fully fund our pension systems with all available dollars.

Thanks to everyone who has reached out to me lately about the many different issues we are tackling. Your input is vital, and I look forward to hearing more from you as we work to improve our commonwealth.

Rep. David Meade is the majority caucus chairman in the state House of Representatives. He represents the 80th District, which includes Lincoln as well as part of Pulaski County. Contact him with any questions, concerns, or advice. He can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at (800) 372-7181 or via e-mail at david.meade@lrc.ky.gov.