Residents are invited to join Kentucky Youth Ad­vo­cates, in partnership with Casey Fam­ily Programs, as they discuss solutions to move the Common­wealth’s child wel­fare system forward as they nav­igate and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the Advocate Virtual Forum: COVID-19 Impacts on the Child Welfare System, Senior Policy and Advocacy Director Shannon Moody said they will hear from state leaders, Ken­tuck­ians connected to the child welf­are system and community partners.

Among those on the panel will be Norma Hatfield, executive director of CASA of the Heartland; Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman; Sec­re­­tary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Eric Fried­lander; Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Debra Lambert; Commissioner for the Department of Community Based Services Marta Miranda-­Straub, Sen. Whitney West­er­field and Rep. Joni Jen­kins.

“To get all these decision and policy makers in one forum to hear the voices of caregivers across the Commonwealth is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Hatfield, an advocate for Kinship care.

“What I hope is that the leadership in the state of Kentucky will listen and use this event and information as part of their lessons learned,” Hatfield said. “We were all dealing with the pandemic as best we could, but we have the opportunity to plan and handle things better in the future. This forum is an amazing starting point to do just that.”

Moody said the Kentucky Youth Advocates will share research findings from conversations with foster youth, foster parents, kinship caregivers, and providers on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them.

Topics include challenges different groups within the child welfare system are facing, barriers to accessing services, what is working well, and actionable solutions to support children and families as they continue to adjust to, and eventually rebuild from, this crisis.

The event is from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. To register, go to https://bit.ly/318yfLf.

Moody said the virtual townhall will be recorded. To view the recording once it is posted, go to kyyouth.org/covid19/#forum.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1741 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com.

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