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Kentucky Youth Advocates are focused on how to improve the lives of the kids in our state.

Kentucky Youth Advocates is a bipartisan organization that aims to make Kentucky the best place to be a kid. The organization works toward their goal by serving Kentucky's kids through case advocacy, research and education, mobilization, and engagement.

However, one of their biggest areas is their work in lobbying. The group works closely with legislators and community leaders to change and enact policies that benefit kids and their families.

On September 4, Executive Director Terry Brooks geared up community partners around the Blueprint for Kentucky's Children policy agenda to advocate for in the next legislative session. The Blueprint is a coalition of non-profit, public, and private organizations that speaks with a common voice to create change for Kentucky's kids.

Brooks gave a speech outlining what he believes is the outlook for kids surrounding policies presented in Frankfort's January session.

Over the past few years, the team has seen some huge victories. One of those victories was the House Bill 11 which introduced tobacco-free school campuses in the state.

Another was House Bill 180, which recognized close family friends as fictive kin. This helps kids stay in the care of someone close to them rather than enter into the crowded foster care system.

These wins do not make the team at Kentucky Youth Advocates fill over confident in their work. Although their record is strong in the state capital, 93% yes and 7% no on issues they lobby, they do not want to build up a false sense of security.

"Kentucky's kids are still the underdogs in Frankfort," Brooks said. "We have to continue to see ourselves as winning underdogs if we're going to continue seeing that streak."

Brooks continued by asking his team to to think about conundrums when it came to policies. He said it was important to think about who would be against the idea and why.

He also emphasized the importance of unlikely and unconventional voices. Even if someone is an expert in a certain area, it is crucial to branch out and support other ideas. People get used to hearing the same issue coming from the same person. New voices are revive the topic.

The final thing he asked for was diplomatic persistence. Policies are hard to fight for, often requiring long hours and intense lobbying. Brooks wants his team to hang on to their objectives and persist in the name of Kentucky's kids.

Kentucky Youth Advocates have to practice this persistence with decency and respect. "At the end of the day, having a bunch of legislators feeling disrespected by us is not going to win the day," Brooks said.

While the Kentucky Youth Advocates and partners in the Blueprint for Kentucky's children are ready to do what it takes, you can join by visiting their website: kyyouth.org.

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