Kid-focused bills advance in Frankfort Skip to content

Kid-focused bills advance in Frankfort

Child care, vaccines, and autism education are among the bills on the move.

Photo by Ben Wicks / Unsplash

A bill to give working foster parents better access to child care subsidies is on its way to the governor’s desk after pushing through the Kentucky House on a bipartisan vote Monday. 

The Democrat-led legislation in Senate Bill 240  – one of a handful of child-related bills advancing Monday – would make sure eligible foster parents who work outside the home continue to have access to child care assistance while expanding access to foster parents who work remotely from home. 

The bill advanced 91-0 in the House on Monday after passing the Senate 37-0 earlier in March.

Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-Louisville) is the bill’s lead sponsor. The freshman senator  said in a press statement Monday that SB 240 “will decrease barriers to families who wish to participate in foster care.” She filed the bill after learning of the experience of Megan Hamilton – a woman who was deemed ineligible for Kentucky’s foster care child care assistance program because she worked remotely for a company out of state. 

“We desperately need more foster families in Kentucky, and this legislation can help us achieve that goal. Kentuckians who want to provide a loving home to a child in foster care should be able to do so; I’m proud that this bill will help them,” Chambers Armstrong said in her statement. 

Child care is a hot issue during the 2024 General Assembly. Still pending in the final days of the current session is the $300 million “Horizons Act” – a multi-faceted Senate proposal meant to boost Kentucky’s child care industry amid a decline in federal child-care-related pandemic funding. 

State lawmakers are working this week to negotiate a state budget for the next two years, with significant new funding for child care programs pending. 

Autism education task force

The House turned its attention to improving public education for school children with autism spectrum disorder when it adopted House Concurrent Resolution 51 on Monday. 

Rep. Mike Clines (R-Alexandria) is the sponsor of the legislation. 

Should it become law, HCR 51 would create a bipartisan autism in education task force to study and recommend ways to improve public school-based services for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. The legislative task force would spend most of this year researching and comparing school supports and services for impacted students. It would be required to submit a final report and possible recommendations next year for potential consideration by the 2026 General Assembly.

The House voted 92-0 Monday to adopt the resolution, sending it to the Senate for consideration. 

Clines called the task force “a great opportunity for the commonwealth to analyze data and hear from experts in the field” in a press statement to LINK nky on Monday. 

“One in 36 eight-year-old children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder,” Clines said. “ASD provides educators with unique challenges, which requires our schools to provide additional services and support to ASD students.” He said the task force would allow lawmakers to “produce informed and evidence-based practices to support our students with ASD across the state.”

Childhood vaccines

Legislation to allow children as young as age five to be vaccinated by licensed pharmacists in Kentucky is on its way to the governor’s desk after being signed off on by the Senate and House on Monday. 

The current minimum age for pharmacist-administered vaccinations in Kentucky is age nine. An attempt to lower the minimum age to three in the legislation (House Bill 274) was changed to age five when the bill passed a House committee in February. 

Pharmacists would be required to have parental or guardian consent and follow prescribed protocols to administer vaccines under HB 274, as they are now. 

Rep. Danny Bentley (R-Russell), a licensed pharmacist, is the lead sponsor of the legislation. He told the House last month that the bill would make common vaccines like DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), meningitis and the flu more accessible. 

“We’ve got counties without a pediatrician, while pharmacists are more readily available. By making these childhood vaccines more accessible to Kentuckians we are taking the necessary steps to prevent a public health crisis,” Bentley said. “We know it is safe, we know it is effective.” 

HB 274 passed the Senate 26-11 on Friday with “no” votes from NKY Sens. Shelley Funke Frommeyer (R-Alexandria), John Schickel (R-Union), Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) and Gex Williams (R-Verona). No NKY lawmakers voted against HB 274 when it passed by the House on a 94-0 vote in February. 

The Kentucky General Assembly is in the final few days of its annual legislative session. Lawmakers are expected to recess later this week for a scheduled 10-day veto period. They are then scheduled to reconvene for the last two days of the session on April 12 and 15.

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Written by Rebecca Hanchett. Cross-posted from the Link NKY.



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