Sunday June 26, 2022
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Louisville has received $1.5 million in federal funding for a project to improve conditions in downtown Louisville for pedestrians and people with disabilities, among others, Mayor Greg Fischer and Gov. Steve Beshear announced today.

When the work is completed, sidewalks in the project area – South Fourth Street between West Chestnut and Broadway – will be repaired or rebuilt to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and to encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Current conditions, including deteriorated pavers, have significantly limited ADA mobility.

“South Fourth Street is a valued asset to our downtown economic development,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Our goal is to attract people living, working, shopping and dining in downtown Louisville and this investment from the state helps to make that continual mission possible.”

The funding announced today will build upon the $1.5 million in Metro funds already spent on enhancements along South Fourth Street between Muhammad Ali Blvd and Chestnut St., as well as Gutherie St. and complement the $100 million in private sector investment currently being made in the area.

“Projects such as these enhance a community’s transportation choices and therefore enhance the quality of life for citizens of the community,” Gov. Beshear said. “This award furthers the City of Louisville’s larger plan for making it easier for pedestrians to get around downtown.”

The project area is near a number of non-profit agencies – the Salvation Army, Volunteers of America, KentuckianaWorks and the Housing Partnership – that work with the disabled, veterans, the elderly, the poor and minorities.

Other work is to include enlarged tree wells, restriping of pavement on Fourth Street, and there will be parking on both sides of the street.

The funding is through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), a reimbursement program administered by the Office of Local Programs in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Rural and Municipal Aid.

TAP assists communities in funding transportation improvements such as safe bicycle and pedestrian facilities, scenic routes, beautification, and other investments. Projects may be a mix of elements and accessible to the general public or targeted to a broad segment of the general public.

Visit highlights governor’s commitment to support veterans; 4th veterans nursing home to open in 2016

Governor Steve Beshear today toured the Radcliff Veterans Center (RVC), which is nearing completion and will become the state’s fourth state veterans nursing home.

“This state-of-the-art facility is a huge accomplishment for Kentucky, and I am proud to have been able to secure matching funds for its construction,” said Gov. Beshear. “We remember the brave men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, and we ensure that they receive the very finest care when they need it.”

The new nursing home will be near the Louisville and Fort Knox areas. It is being built on the Community Living Center Model, which features four neighborhoods of three 10-bedroom homes each. The design provides 120 veterans with a private room and bath and family-style living room, dining room, kitchen and patio. A separate administration building will house recreation, therapy and other services. The center will employ about 170 staff.

“We have been working a long time to open this new veterans nursing home in the center of Kentucky’s largest concentration of veterans,” said Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs (KDVA) Commissioner Heather French Henry. “We are grateful for the steadfast support, assistance and patience from Gov. Beshear and the Commonwealth’s veteran community.”

“Having been raised in a military family, I understand and appreciate the sacrifices made by all the men and women who serve our country,” said Sen. Dennis Parrett, of Elizabethtown. “There is never enough that we can do to repay their service. However, the veterans’ nursing homes do serve a great purpose for these men and women at a time in their lives when they need us to help care for them. I am pleased that the Radcliff facility is nearing completion and thank the Governor for his support in this project.”

“I want to thank Gov. Beshear for coming here today to highlight the progress of the Radcliff Veterans Center, which will be an outstanding addition to our region once it’s up and running,” said state Rep. Jeff Greer, of Brandenburg. “This would not be possible without support from him, my fellow legislators and those of us in our community who fought so hard to have this state-of-the-art center built here. The veterans who will benefit from this and their families deserve no less.”

The funding of the Radcliff Veterans Nursing Home is but the latest in a seriesof actions taken by Gov. Beshear to support Kentucky’s approximately 331,000 veterans throughout his administration.

For example, Gov. Beshear, state and federal officials this year announced the launch of telemental health services out of the Joseph “Eddie” Ballard Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson, part of an effort to expand mental health services to veterans in western Kentucky. In addition to the Radcliff facility under construction, KDVA operates three state veterans nursing homes.

Kentucky is also celebrating 2015 as the “Year of the Woman Veteran,” supported by a statewide conference, public outreach and the hiring of a women veterans coordinator. Gov. Beshear proclaimed March 30, 2015, as Vietnam Veterans’ Day in Kentucky, as part of Kentucky’s partnership in the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration. A July public exhibit of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute wall at the Kentucky Horse Park was sponsored by KDVA, through a grant from the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund.

In September 2014, veterans, family and friends commemorated that anniversary in a ceremony at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort.

Kentucky now has an “I Support Veterans” license plate, gives veterans preference for hiring in state government and placed a plaque in the Capitol Rotunda to honor Medal of Honor recipients from the Commonwealth. KDVA has partnered with the Transportation Cabinet to establish “VetConnect,” a vital service that helps veterans get to medical appointments. And the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund Board funded a veteran entrepreneurship program at the University of Louisvlle.

KDVA also co-sponsored veteran job fairs with the “Hiring our Heroes” U.S. Chamber of Commerce campaign. The state veterans agency also recently partnered with the federal VA to establish a seamless, electronic claims system that expedites the benefits claims process.

When the Radcliff Veterans Center opens, Kentucky will have four state veterans nursing homes. Thomson-Hood Veterans Center opened in Wilmore in 1991, and the Paul Patton Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center in Hazard and the Joseph “Eddie” Ballard Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson both opened in 2002.

A ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony is being planned for the Radcliff facility this spring Admission applications will be accepted beginning February 2016. For more information visit: http://veterans.ky.gov/nursinghomes/Pages/default.aspx.

5th state veterans cemetery to open in 2016 in Leslie County

Governor Steve Beshear announced today that the National Cemetery Administration plans to award a $6 million grant in Fiscal Year 2016 for the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery South East in Leslie County.

“I am happy to announce that the National Cemetery Administration has approved this construction grant for us to build another veterans cemetery,” said Gov. Beshear. “We remember the brave men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, and we are also grateful for the hard work of the legislature and the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs (KDVA) for locating this property and obtaining the federal grant for this cemetery.”

The final grant award will be made after KDVA completes the design phase of the project early next year.

“Providing a secure, dignified resting place for our Kentucky service members is one of our sacred duties to veterans,” said KDVA Commissioner Heather French Henry. “This grant allows us to ensure that they are always within reach of their loved ones.”

“I am so proud and thankful that the VA cemetery is finally becoming a reality,” said Leslie County Judge-Executive Jimmy Sizemore. “For many years, federal, state and local officials have worked hard to make this happen. I appreciate the efforts of everyone involved.”

Gov. Beshear’s administration has worked hard to show support and appreciation for veterans and military families, in ways large and small.

For example, Gov. Beshear, state and federal officials this year announced the launch of telemental health services out of the Joseph “Eddie” Ballard Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson, part of an effort to expand mental health services to veterans in western Kentucky. KDVA operates three state veterans nursing homes and is in the process of building a fourth, in Radcliff. Construction began in July 2013; the facility is expected to open in 2016.

Kentucky is celebrating 2015 as the “Year of the Woman Veteran,” supported by a statewide conference, public outreach and the hiring of a women veterans coordinator. Gov. Beshear proclaimed March 30, 2015, as Vietnam Veterans’ Day in Kentucky, as part of Kentucky’s partnership in the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration. A July public exhibit of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute wall at the Kentucky Horse Park was sponsored by KDVA, through a grant from the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund.

In September 2014, veterans, family and friends commemorated that anniversary in a ceremony at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort.

Kentucky now has an “I Support Veterans” license plate, gives veterans preference for hiring in state government and placed a plaque in the Capitol Rotunda to honor Medal of Honor recipients from the Commonwealth. KDVA has partnered with the Transportation Cabinet to establish “VetConnect,” a vital service that helps veterans get to medical appointments. And the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund Board funded a veteran entrepreneurship program at the University of Louisvlle.

KDVA also co-sponsored veteran job fairs with the “Hiring our Heroes” U.S. Chamber of Commerce campaign. The state veterans agency also recently partnered with the federal VA to establish a seamless, electronic claims system that expedites the benefits claims process.

The state’s fifth cemetery will serve veterans and their families from southeastern Kentucky, in keeping with a federal goal of ensuring that a national or state veterans cemetery is no farther than 75 miles from veterans’ families.

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs will begin construction on the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery South East (KVCSE) in 2016. KVCSE will be located on about 40 acres on Kentucky Highway 118 just north of Hyden in Leslie County.

Construction will include an entry gate, administration building of approximately 2,600 square feet, maintenance building with service area, committal shelter, and a columbarium. Also, there will be appropriate parking and assembly area, road network, walking path and landscaping commensurate with the dignity and honor for a state veteran’s cemetery.

Burial services to veterans and their eligible family members include:

  • Furnishing grave or columbarium space
  • Opening and closing the grave
  • Supplying a suitable marker or headstone
  • Providing the interment site with perpetual care

KVCSE is Kentucky’s fifth state veterans cemetery. Kentucky Veterans Cemetery West in Hopkinsville, has interred more than 3,084 veterans and dependents since opening in 2004; Kentucky Veterans Cemetery Central in Radcliff, has interred more than 4,139 veterans and dependents since opening in 2007; Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North in Williamstown, has interred more than 1,099 veterans and dependents since opening in 2008; and Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North East in Greenup County, has interred more than 549 veterans and dependents since opening in 2010.

Gov. Steve Beshear today honored nine Kentuckians with the prestigious Governor’s Awards in the Arts.

“These awardees represent such a rich diversity of background and experience, but they have in common that they have risen above and beyond in their commitment to hone and refine their respective talents. In the case of the organizations we’re also honoring, they have demonstrated a remarkable and fervent commitment to creating an art-friendly community where they live,” said Gov. Beshear, who was presiding over the final Governor’s Award ceremony of his second term. “It has been my privilege as governor to see so many Governor’s Awardees pass through the Rotunda and to honor their contributions to our Commonwealth.”

Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, a former Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of the Arts, also participated in the awards ceremony.

“The Governor’s Awards in the Arts creates a higher profile for Kentucky’s arts and artists, helping to raise awareness of the Commonwealth’s rich heritage and artistic traditions,” Lt. Gov. Luallen said. “As someone who was involved with the establishment of the Governor’s Awards for the Arts, it has been rewarding to see the vast array of talent and rich contributions that scores of individuals and businesses have made to Kentucky.”

Among the honorees was noted Kentucky journalist and arts advocate Al Smith, the former host of KET’s “Comment on Kentucky” and a former chairman of the Kentucky Arts Council. Gov. Beshear awarded Smith the Milner Award, named in honor of B. Hudson Milner, a Louisville utility executive and civic leader, whose contributions to the arts in Kentucky remain important to this day. The Milner Award is presented to Kentucky residents or organizations located in Kentucky for outstanding philanthropic, artistic or other contributions to the arts.

“The arts council is to be commended not only for investments in programs and arts institutions, but, in recent years, for grants to individual artists that highlight their talents and contribute to our citizens’ appreciation of artists as they raise our vision and nourish our souls,” Smith said.

The other eight Governor’s Awardees, listed by hometown and specific award, were:

The 2015 Governor’s Award was designed by renowned folk artist Minnie Adkins, of Isonville. Artists chosen to design the Governor’s Award each year are selected from among past Governor’s Award recipients. Adkins earned the Governor’s Award in 1998.

For more information on the Governor’s Awards in the arts, including recipient bios and past recipients and descriptions of each award, visit the arts council’sGovernor’s Awards in the Arts web page.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The arts council, along with the NEA, is celebrating 50 years of service in 2015, which the arts council is recognizing as the Year of the Arts in Kentucky.

Banks, credit institutions encouraged to apply for ‘gap’ funding for business loans

Governor Steve Beshear announced today Kentucky received nearly $5.3 million from the U.S. Treasury Department to help small businesses receive private-sector loans from banks and other credit institutions.

 

“This loan funding gives Kentucky small businesses the extra backing they need to expand and create jobs. We designed a streamlined and easy-to-access program for banks and credit institutions to apply for these funds on behalf of businesses seeking loans,” Gov. Beshear said. “Through our program, we are helping more than 100 small businesses access almost $87 million in loans, $77 million of which are private-sector. That success led directly to this latest round of funding.”

 

The funding marks the third disbursement from the U.S. Treasury Department’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) since 2011 to the Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative (KSBCI).

 

Banks and qualified lenders apply to KSBCI when a business of fewer than 500 employees applies for a loan and falls just short of the institution’s requirements. To fill that gap, eligible companies can receive loans of up to $20 million from lenders with 20 percent provided by the state. Loans exceeding $250,000 are subject to Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) approval. Kentucky’s program targets underserved regions to encourage business growth and hiring.

 

The SSBCI’s disbursement brings the Commonwealth’s total allocation to nearly $15.5 million since July 2011. Kentucky unlocked its third disbursement after expending 100 percent of its first disbursement and 80 percent of the second round. To date, KSBCI helped Kentucky companies receive $86.8 million in loans.

 

Maynard Studios, a professional blacksmith enterprise in Lawrenceburg, specializing in architectural ironwork railings and furniture, received approval for a $165,750 loan from Community Trust Bank in Versailles in 2012.

 

“When we initially sat down to run the numbers, we could not get a loan to build a new studio. Without the new studio, we couldn’t have grown at all,” said Karine Maynard, who founded the business with her husband, Matthew.

 

The loan included nearly $25,000 from KSBCI. It helped grow the couple’s newly incorporated business to its current five employees. Maynard’s new studio opened in January 2013 and since expanded to include an office, breakroom and additional production area. The space allows for more equipment, employees and physically larger projects, which doubled the company’s revenue in both 2013 and 2014.

 

“Without the program’s assistance, we’d still be doing what we do, but we couldn’t take on the kinds of commissions we do,” she said. “Since expanding, we’ve received international recognition and are working on commissions for installation in buildings from San Francisco to New York City.”

 

Eastern Telephone & Technologies, in Pikeville, used its $275,000 loan – which included $9,500 in KSBCI backing – to retrain employees and modernize its sales-and-installation business. The 20-employee company shifted from primarily landline and electrical systems to cutting-edge, networked Internet-of-Things systems.

 

Customers for its building-access, HVAC control, security and landline-to-mobile telephone systems include retail and commercial businesses throughout eastern and central Kentucky.

 

“The loan allowed us to stay current and relevant in the new technology world,” said company founder Darrell Maynard, no relation to Matthew and Karine Maynard. The company paid off its loan in January 2014, allowing KSBCI to recycle the funds for future loans.

 

The Small Business Jobs Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010, established the SSBCI program. The Treasury Department has disbursed more than $1.2 billion in SSBCI funds to participating states, municipalities and territories since the program began. Nationally, from 2011 to 2014, SSBCI funds spurred more than $6.4 billion in private sector lending and investments to small businesses. States have generated $7.36 in private sector lending and investments for every $1 of federal support. Business owners reported these funds will help them retain or create more than 140,000 jobs.

 

Kentucky’s SSBCI funding is administered by the Cabinet for Economic Development’s Office of Entrepreneurship. The innovative financing option works in partnership with participating lenders. Lenders can use three Kentucky-specific credit enhancement options to strengthen loan requests that are credit-worthy in nature but fall just outside acceptable underwriting standards. The credit initiative bridges the gap, making it possible for lenders to finance more small businesses.

 

“The first two disbursements of SSBCI funds allowed us to support more than 115 loans to over 100 small businesses throughout the state,” said Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes. “We will continue that momentum by engaging financial services partners to put this funding to work in Kentucky.”

 

Kentucky businesses and lenders may obtain more information about the KSBCI at www.thinkkentucky.com/smallbizlending

For more information on SSBCI and Treasury’s other small business programs, please visit www.treasury.gov/smallbusiness.

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter.

Georgetown plant produces only US-made Lexus; $360 million expansion added model, 750 new Kentucky jobs

Kentucky’s automotive industry, for years one of the Commonwealth’s greatest strengths, today grew even stronger as Gov. Steve Beshear joined Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) officials and community leaders in Georgetown to unveil the first Lexus  built in the United States.

 

TMMK’s production of the luxury-model Lexus ES 350, the top-selling Lexus sedan worldwide, is creating 750 new Kentucky jobs with an investment of $360 million in the project. The expansion allows TMMK to produce about 50,000 Lexus vehicles per year.

 

“This is an important day for the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “For Lexus to have the confidence in our Kentucky workforce to build this magnificent car speaks volumes. These additional 50,000 vehicles are further proof that the state of Kentucky is a great place to do business for the automotive industry. This is why we are the third-largest producer of light vehicles in the U.S.”

 

“To be chosen to build the Lexus ES 350 is a great honor for not only Toyota, but the state of Kentucky,” said Wil James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc. “It brings us full circle in that we were the first wholly owned plant for Toyota in North America, and, now, we are the first to build Lexus in the United States.”

 

Toyota opened the Georgetown facility, the company’s largest manufacturing facility outside Japan, in 1988. In addition to the Lexus ES 350, the Georgetown facility also manufactures the Toyota Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon and Avalon Hybrid, as well as 4-cylinder and V6 engines. With Lexus, the Kentucky plant’s capacity increases to more than 550,000 vehicles per year. Total employment now stands above 7,500.

 

It was during a visit by Gov. Beshear to Toyota’s headquarters in Japan that the possibility of this significant project came to light. As a proactive measure, Gov. Beshear worked with the Kentucky General Assembly to pass legislation expanding the Kentucky Jobs Retention Act (KJRA), an incentive program designed to spur job creation and significant investments in Kentucky’s automotive and parts manufacturing facilities.

 

KJRA was originally designed to encourage recent investment and job growth by Ford Motor Co. in Louisville. Gov. Beshear recognized the legislation’s potential for other automakers and large parts-manufacturing facilities. He signed House Bill 400 in 2012, making the incentive accessible to Toyota and other major companies.

 

The following spring, Toyota received approval from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority for incentives through the newly expanded KJRA program, paving the way to the $360 million Lexus investment. The project also included other plant upgrade investments totaling $171.2 million.In total, the investment marks the second-largest by Toyota in its Georgetown facility and the largest since an $800 million addition in 1991.

 

Across nearly three decades, TMMK established itself as a leader in the Commonwealth’s auto industry. In addition to employing thousands of Kentuckians, Toyota has provided collaborative leadership to implement best practices in workforce development and other industry initiatives.

 

TMMK’s training model provided a foundation for the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY FAME), a statewide apprenticeship-and-collegiate program training a new generation of advanced-manufacturing employees. Also, among many other community and statewide achievements, the company helped found the Kentucky Auto Industry Association (KAIA).

 

“We are thrilled to welcome the production of Lexus’ ES 350 model to Georgetown, as well as the estimated 750 new jobs it will provide,” said Sen. Damon Thayer, of Georgetown. “Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky has been a tremendous asset to our state’s economy for decades, and we are beyond proud in the continued confidence the company has placed in our community. We appreciate the efforts of everyone who made this project a reality.”

 

“This is a great day for Toyota and all of the Commonwealth, and it marks another major milestone forward for both as we build on a partnership that now extends back 30 years,” said Rep. Tom McKee, of Cynthiana. “I have seen firsthand what Toyota has meant to our region during that time and am certainly happy that the company decided to build on that considerable commitment by adding the Lexus line. I want to thank Gov. Beshear and his administration, my fellow legislators and our local leaders for helping Toyota to take this step. Its impact will be felt for decades to come.”

 

“How pleased we are that Toyota and Lexus have the confidence in Georgetown as a place to build the best car in the world,” said Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather. “We are excited about the opportunity and welcome Lexus to our community. I think it is appropriate that Lexus is here because Georgetown is a Lexus kind of place. I’m looking forward to our mutual success!”

 

“This is a big day for all of Scott County and the entire state as we move forward with Toyota in building great cars and ensuring the economic future for many years to come,” said Scott County Judge-Executive George Lusby.

 

TMMK’s location in Georgetown helped drive Kentucky’s automotive industry to the thriving level it is today. Kentucky is currently home to more than 470 automotive-industry companies that employ nearly 86,000 people. Additionally, ties between Kentucky and the Japanese business community continue to flourish, with Kentucky boasting more than 170 Japanese-owned manufacturing, service and technology facilities that collectively employ more than 41,500 people.

 

For more information on TMMK, visit www.toyotageorgetown.com.

 

A detailed community profile for Georgetown (Scott County) can be viewed here.

 

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.

Panel implores community efforts to address ‘public health issue’

Governor Steve Beshear today called on lawmakers and Kentucky’s future leaders to adopt new recommendations for schools, public agencies and communities to stop youth bullying.

Alongside members of the Kentucky Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force, Gov. Beshear gave highlights of the group’s 29-page report, which gives four main recommendations to reduce youth bullying and to help foster safer, harassment-free school environments.

Among the panel’s recommendations:

  • Adopt one statewide, formal definition of bullying.
  • Adopt evidence-based standards within all school districts to promote a positive climate and culture.
  • Support and invest in behavioral health counselors at the local school level as a preventive measure.
  • Establish and fund a sustainable state-level agency or office that coordinates and supports community-driven efforts to promote bullying prevention and community programs.

“By studying bullying, and by recommending practices and policies to prevent and respond to it, the panel is empowering students, parents and school and community leaders to root out intimidation and harassment in our communities,” Gov. Beshear said. “I ask the lawmakers who served on this task force and their respective chambers to work with our next Governor, our school districts, community leaders and public health officials to implement these critical recommendations.”

The task force, a 26-member panel appointed by Gov. Beshear, has been meeting for the past year, hearing from safety experts and discussing potential strategies to address the problem of youth bullying.

Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes, who co-chaired the panel with former Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Terry Holliday, said she is pleased that the task force was able to recommend a layer of prevention strategies.

“We understand that while there is no ‘magic solution’ to ending youth bullying, part of the solution is simply raising awareness,” she said. “Our panel heard many times that adults had no idea about certain bullying incidences until they reached a crisis stage. We need community leaders to keep speaking up about bullying prevention so that it is easier for others – especially young people – to talk about it.”

Holliday and Haynes wrote to Gov. Beshear last year and urged him to create the task force. Membership on the task force included legislators and school, youth, safety and community officials. The task force also included a middle-school student who experienced bullying when she was younger. Eleven-year-old Morgan Guess – and her mother – participated on the bullying prevention panel.

“It has been an honor for me to serve on this task force and I am grateful to Gov. Beshear for allowing me the opportunity to represent Kentucky students,” said Morgan Guess, of Paducah. “The last year has shown me that there are citizens all across Kentucky who are committed to changing the culture of bullying and given me hope for Kentucky’s future. This is an important start, but we have more to do. I am committed to doing my part. I am counting on your commitment as well. All Kentucky students are.”

Secretary Haynes said the task force learned that the best response to bullying is for communities to act before it occurs.

“Rather than implement measures that merely react to bullying, we have to focus on prevention efforts,” she said. “We need to establish safe and supportive school environments that empower youth to seek success.”

And, Haynes said, the report also emphasizes that bullying is not just a school problem.

“Bullying is not a problem to be addressed solely by school administrators, or even state social workers,” she said. “None of us can be bystanders in this effort. To really thrive, our youth need the right tools and influences to learn to react to disappointment and to have healthy relationships with others. That is going to take a commitment from us all.”

The panel established that bullying is a form of violence and can cause severe physical, social and emotional health problems. The group adapted a four-step approach suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address public health issues.

A recent example of collaboration between KDE and CHFS is the School-Based Behavioral Screening Initiative, launched in early 2014.

The goal of this initiative is to help middle and high school personnel recognize when a student may be showing signs of a behavioral health need. Students may be briefly screened with a validated tool, and based on the identified need, referred for services, supports or further assessment, when appropriate.

“I’m glad we’re addressing this, because it is a major public health issue.  It affects children and families alike, both mentally and physically,” said Rep. Rita Smart, of Richmond. “This report will give us the foundation we need to take the next step in this area, and I look forward to doing whatever else I can to help.”

“For too long, bullying was downplayed as an issue, but it has gotten much more attention in recent years as we gain a better understanding of its long-term impact on those victimized as well as those who are doing the bullying,” said Rep. Derrick Graham, off Frankfort. “If we do not take corrective action when they are young, we risk seeing fixable problems spiraling out of control. I think the findings in this report will give us better tools to take on this task in the years ahead.”

School districts that have implemented this initiative have reported the ability to better plan ahead to help students, to better identify when a student’s behavior might be a symptom of a greater problem, and to meet the needs of their students more responsively.

Learn more about the School-Based Behavioral Health Screening Initiative here.

As part of today’s announcement, Gov. Beshear proclaimed this week as Safe Schools Week in Kentucky, a designation that coincides with the release of the findings of the Kentucky Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force.

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