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Recovery Kentucky Centers Provide Important Service for Kentucky

When more than 44,000 Kentuckians over the age of 26 are dependent on drugs and alcohol, you know there is a major problem.

Drug and alcohol addiction, along with the troubles it creates, is one of the Commonwealth’s greatest challenges.

Tackling substance abuse takes creativity and collaboration.

One innovative way we are making progress is through the Recovery Kentucky program.

Aimed at helping Kentuckians recover from substance abuse, which often leads to chronic homelessness, this initiative provides services at centers across the Commonwealth.

Each facility is a supportive housing development and uses a recovery program model that includes peer support, daily living skills training, job responsibilities and challenges to practice sober living.

Today, at the Brighton Recovery Center for Women in Florence, I announced that six locations will receive $250,000 federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to assist with operating costs.

In addition to Florence, centers in Erlanger, Henderson, Evarts, Richmond and Hopkinsville will receive a grant.

The CDBG program is administered by the Department for Local Government, which has partnered with the Department of Corrections and the Kentucky Housing Corporation on the Recovery Kentucky effort.

Other centers that have received funding include the CenterPoint Recovery Center for Men in Paducah, which I visited yesterday, and facilities located in Morehead, Owensboro and Campbellsville.

From homelessness to poverty to domestic violence, substance abuse is associated with many serious issues affecting our communities.

Supporting Recovery Kentucky centers is a key way to treat those in need while addressing the root problems of these issues.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recognized the effectiveness of this type of supportive housing and recovery program, calling it “A Model That Works.”

It is proven to help people who face the most complex challenges to live more stable, productive lives.

With the cooperation of state organizations and the commitment of local centers, we can have a significant impact by emphasizing a future that is not dependent on drugs but on positive lifestyle choices.

I look forward to seeing the progress that is made by individuals who participate in this program and the difference it makes for all of Kentucky.

Child Abuse Prevention Month

There’s a lot of talk these days about what sets Kentucky apart. What is our defining characteristic, our most important resource?

I have an easy answer for that: our children. They are our most precious resource by far. They will determine our Commonwealth’s future.

And it is critical that we protect them when they are put in harm’s way.

To encourage Kentuckians to show support for our most vulnerable citizens, the Governor has declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

We must do everything we can to transform our communities into places that care about and actively support families and children.

Child abuse and neglect transcend all socioeconomic and racial lines – there is no community, no profession, no school and no place of worship that is immune to child abuse and neglect.

The majority of cases stem from situations associated with substance abuse, mental health issues or domestic violence.

With the support of communities and families, all of Kentucky’s children can thrive and have the opportunity to grow into caring, contributing and healthy adults.

Working in partnership with public and private organizations such as social services, schools, childcare centers, religious organizations, law enforcement and businesses is a particularly effective strategy.

A national study by the Pew Research Institute estimated that the cost of child abuse and neglect was $104 billion dollars in 2008. This figure represents the costs of treatment directly associated with child abuse and neglect, as well as the costs of incarceration, intervention and loss of work time.

However, the data shows that a greater focus on prevention — providing services on the front end – will decrease both the short and long-term costs to society.

My family has been supportive of child abuse prevention efforts dating back to my husband’s service as attorney general and a state legislator, as well as his service on the Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky Board of Directors. This month, my husband has signed a proclamation in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Fostering healthy, nurturing environments for children is one of the best investments Kentucky can make.

I encourage you to get involved in combating child abuse. One way to show your support is by attending an event in your area. A statewide community calendar is available at or check with your regional organization.

For additional information about child abuse, check out

Let’s protect Kentucky’s most important asset. Our children deserve it.

Time for Senate to Pass HB 2

Earlier today, the State Senate Democratic Caucus held an open meeting about HB 2, the Graduation Bill. I was pleased to have a chance to speak about this before members of the Senate.

We know the facts.

Kentucky dropouts:

  • earn thousands less each year,
  • are more likely to be unemployed,
  • are more likely to suffer from addiction,
  • are more likely to have criminal records, and
  • are more likely to rely on social services.

In the 2008-2009 school year, 6,500 Kentucky students dropped out of school. That’s 6,500 children in our hometowns, in our neighborhoods, in our communities, gave up on themselves.

I am not about to give up on the next 6,500 – and I urge the Kentucky State Senate not to give up on them either.

House Bill 2 would raise the minimum age that students could drop out of school to age 17 in 2015 and 18 in 2016.

Raising the dropout age is a significant tool to provide our children with every opportunity to be successful, educated and self-sufficient.

I know that increasing the dropout age is not a silver bullet. There are other strategies that must be utilized if we are going to ensure that our children succeed.

The State Senate has shown support for the Career Pathways bill and the Early Graduation bill. I believe that both of these bills are complementary to the graduation bill, and I think passage of all three would make a strong statement about Kentucky’s commitment to its future.

I have heard some senators say they are not hearing demand from their constituents to raise the dropout age. Well, they are not listening.

A recent poll found that 76 percent of Kentuckians support this bill, and 62 percent of Kentuckians strongly support it.  An overwhelming majority of Kentuckians are asking Frankfort to stand up for their children and do the right thing.

I am glad that after several tries this issue is getting a hearing in the Kentucky State Senate.

It is time for the Senate to vote up or down; yes or no. Will it be yes or no to the future of Kentucky’s children? Yes or no to the future of Kentucky’s workforce?

If we want to break the cycle of poverty, close the revolving door of prison and improve the quality of life for all Kentuckians, it is not only time, it is past time, to pass HB 2.

I encourage the Senate to give this a hearing in the Senate Education committee and to give the full body a chance to vote on this important bill.

A Visit to a Net-Zero Energy School
Today, I had the opportunity to pay a visit to a very special school in Bowling Green.
Richardsville Elementary has the distinction of being the country’s first net-zero energy public school. This is an incredible achievement for our state, not to mention the country.
Following years of revising building designs, the new structure opened in September 2010. The plans enable the newest addition to consume a minimal amount of energy, which is offset by the abundant amount of clean energy it produces with solar panels.
That clean energy will be sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority and will essentially result in an energy neutral facility.
Last May, I visited Richardsville to help announce a $1.37 million federal grant to Warren County Public Schools for solar panels. It was a pleasure then to view the results of the funding today.
During my stop, I was given a tour of the school led by students and watched a performance called “We are Solar” about the value of energy awareness. I was amazed by the students’ enthusiasm and knowledge.
By protecting the environment and helping with national energy security, sustainable schools like Richardsville create a positive green impact that reaches beyond a single building. It teaches children how to live their lives as responsible environmental stewards. This is a message we cannot emphasize enough.
While attending class in a net-zero structure with features such as geothermal units and bamboo floors, children witness with their own eyes the wonders and feasibility of energy conservation. Students also gain a wonderful learning opportunity, with features like the water conservation hallway being incorporated into lesson plans.
I have no doubt that other schools are taking note of Richardsville’s impressive feat.
Some of you may know that as part of my Green Team initiative (, one of my goals has been to promote sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental conservation. Green Team encourages implementing eco-friendly measures and taking simple steps to lower utility costs and reduce carbon emissions.
I think it’s safe to say that Richardsville Elementary is an exemplary honorary member of my Green Team.
Richardsville’s energy plan is also an excellent example of how we can achieve the goals set by my husband in his Intelligent Energy Choices for Kentucky’s Future: Kentucky’s 7-Point Energy Strategy, which may be viewed at
This can inspire all of us to make changes, not just for schools, but for homes and businesses as well. Richardsville may well create a tipping point. Let’s see how many will join them.
First Annual Kentucky Literacy Celebration

As a former educator, I understand that literacy is a valuable tool that creates a foundation for learning.

Without it, daily life – from employment to education opportunities – is much more difficult.

Therefore, it is vital that we do everything we can to ensure that Kentuckians are proficient in reading.

To promote reading for all ages, I am thrilled to kick off the first annual Kentucky Literacy Celebration.

This statewide event will take place from February 28 – March 4.

During this week, I encourage you to make a special effort to take time to read, whether it is by yourself, with your family or at a community event.

My office is partnering with the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development, the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, the Kentucky Reading Association, the Kentucky Education Association and the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English/Language Arts for this celebration. All of these organizations have worked hard to make this a success.

As part of the celebration, I will be visiting local libraries, schools and adult education centers around the state. Below is a list of locations I will visit.

We hope that this event will raise awareness and inspire everyone, from children learning the ABCs to adults honing their vocabulary, to meet their goals.

By working together, we can foster greater levels of literacy across Kentucky.

For more information, please visit

2011 Kentucky Literacy Celebration Visits

Tuesday, March 1

11:30 a.m. Louisa East Elementary – 235 East Powhatan Street, Louisa

1:00 p.m. Johnson County Adult Education – BCTCS, Building C, Mayo Campus, 513 3rd Street, Paintsville

3:00 p.m. Rockcastle County Public Library – 60 Ford Drive, Mount Vernon

Wednesday, March 2

9:00 a.m. Breckinridge–Grayson Programs, Inc, 201 East Walnut St., Leitchfield

10:40 a.m. Breckinridge County Public Library – 112 South Main Street, Hardinsburg

1:00 p.m. Joe Harrison Carter Elementary – 3888 Edmonton Road, Tompkinsville

2:15 p.m. William B. Harlan Memorial Library – 500 West Fourth Street, Tompkinsville

Thursday, March 3

9:00 a.m. Anderson County Public Library – 114 North Main Street, Lawrenceburg

10:00 a.m. Harlow Early Learning Center – 530 Perryville Road, Harrodsburg

11:15 a.m. Jessamine Early Learning Village – 851 Wilmore Road, Nicholasville

12:30 p.m. UK Early Childhood Lab – #8 Erikson Hall, University of Kentucky, 135 Graham Avenue, Lexington

2:00 p.m. Clark County Public Library – 370 South Burns Avenue, Winchester

Friday, March 4

9:00 a.m. Early Learning Village School – 200 Laralan Avenue, Frankfort

10:30 a.m. Atkinson Elementary – 2811 Duncan Street, Louisville

Kentucky State House Passes HB 225 - Time for Senate to follow suit

I am thrilled that House Bill 225 has passed the Kentucky House of Representatives. This is a tremendous show of support for education, as well as for Kentucky's economic future.

The bill will help more Kentuckians receive a high school diploma and will create a better-prepared, more highly educated workforce.

I would like to thank Rep. Jeff Greer and Rep. Reggie Meeks for their sponsorship of HB 225, as well as education committee chair Carl Rollins and Speaker Greg Stumbo for their continued support. In addition, I appreciate the support and hard work of Commissioner Terry Holliday and the Kentucky High School Graduation Coalition.

It is our duty to do everything possible to provide a quality education to the children of the Commonwealth. In an increasingly technology-based economy, that means assuring that our children have a high school diploma.

If they are to be competitive, if we as a state are to be competitive in securing high-tech, high-paying jobs, then a high school diploma is the absolute minimum requirement. The least we can do is to let these children know that we value them by giving them every opportunity to succeed.

Failing to give our children the skills and the encouragement they need to succeed would be a great detriment to the future of our state.

Now it is up to the Senate.

For the sakes of our young people, education and economic development, I call on the Senate to pass this bill – a significant step forward for Kentucky's future.

It is time to enact HB 225.

Support House Bill 225, the Graduation Bill

There’s a saying that a major part of success is showing up.

That applies to many areas of life, from the workplace to community involvement to relationships.

It also applies to a highly valued American tradition: education.

In high numbers, young Kentuckians are not showing up for class and are dropping out before they reach graduation.

In fact, nearly 6,500 Kentucky students dropped out of school in the 2007-2008 academic year. That number is roughly the same as the populations of Pikeville or Princeton.

Kentucky’s school attendance law is partly to blame. Established in 1934, the law was put in place at a time when a high school diploma was not required for most mainstream jobs.

Clearly, it’s time for an update.

That’s why Governor Beshear is endorsing House Bill 225, known as the Graduation Bill.

Today, I testified before the House Education Committee in support of this bill.

Introduced by Rep. Jeff Greer, HB 225 would initially affect children entering the 9th grade during the 2011-2012 school year, raising the compulsory age from 16 to 17 on July 1, 2015 and to 18 the following year.

This new phased-in approach would give school systems and families five years to make adjustments while targeting incoming ninth-graders during a key transition time.

We all know that the lack of a high school degree has a lasting effect.

Statistically, high school dropouts are far more likely to be unemployed than college graduates and to earn low wages if employed.

Dropouts also tend to be less healthy and often do not live as long as those who complete high school.

What people do not always consider is that the dropout problem affects all Kentuckians.

A few ways that a high dropout rate impacts the state are:

Lost Wages: On average, a Kentucky high school dropout earns about $6,800 less each year than someone with a diploma. The lost lifetime earnings for last year’s class of Kentucky dropouts alone total more than $4.2 billion.

Less Tax Revenue: A high school dropout contributes about $60,000 less in taxes over a lifetime.

Increased Public Assistance Costs: Kentucky taxpayers spend $2,113 more on support programs like housing, food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid for dropouts than for high school graduates.

Increased Incarceration: About 75 percent of prison inmates do not have a high school diploma. Kentucky’s economy would gain about $87.4 million in crime-related savings and additional revenue if the male graduation rate were improved by just five percent.

Increased Health Care Costs: Kentucky could save more than $161 million in health care costs over the lifetimes of each class of potential dropouts if they earn their diplomas.

Quite simply, we can’t afford not to raise the dropout age to 18.

HB 225 would be a way, along with greater support and flexibility for school systems, to help keep students engaged and help better prepare them for careers and adulthood.

If the bill becomes law, Kentucky will join 19 other states and the District of Columbia that require students to stay in school until the age of 18.

That would translate to more than 1,600 students remaining in school annually that might not otherwise.

It will also translate to a better-educated workforce, which will make Kentucky more attractive to businesses. With a highly-trained population, we can attract more high-quality, high-paying jobs to our state.

Combined with other supports, HB 225 could lead to a decrease in the dropout rate by one to two percentage points, an increase in postsecondary participation, a reduction in unemployment and increased wages.

Last year, this legislation passed the Kentucky House of Representatives 94-6 and passed the Senate Education Committee. Without a doubt, there is strong support in the General Assembly for this measure.

I am proud to support this critical legislation; it is integral to the futures of our young people, not to mention the overall well-being of the state. If you share my concerns, contact your legislators and let them know you are in favor of HB 225 —for the sake of education, economic development and for all of our futures.

Special Guest at State of the Commonwealth Address

Tonight I had the opportunity to sit next to someone very special at the State of the Commonwealth address.

Ann Campbell, wife of Major General John F. Campbell, joined me in the House Chambers to listen to the State of the Commonwealth Address. Ann is an extraordinary woman who I am honored to know. I first witnessed Ann’s compassion and strength last November at Ft. Campbell. As the spouse of the commander of the 101st Airborne at Ft. Campbell, she is familiar with the rewards and challenges military families face. She has tapped into her understanding to offer her support to other military families.

Her service highlights the sacrifices relatives of service members make, as well as their incredible patience and dedication. Their continued support provides a source of strength for their loved ones. Their courage reinforces the fortitude of our men and women in uniform. Their support renews confidence and shields from adversity.

Ann understands that, and she has shown a commitment to assisting our military families. I’m proud that Steve recognized her in his State of the Commonwealth address and I look forward to watching what more she will accomplish on behalf of military families.

'Kentucky needs a higher dropout age'
Check out this great column by Pam Platt in The Courier-Journal about raising Kentucky’s dropout age.
Shop & Share

Here are several startling statistics that you may not know:

One in four women and one out of nine men in the United States are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives.

On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.

Every year, thousands of child sexual abuse cases are reported in Kentucky.

Faced with these facts, how can we not be moved to help?

These individuals are suffering in their own homes. And whether we know it or not, many of us have friends or family members who have been victims themselves.

Fortunately, domestic violence shelters across the state are able to provide them sanctuary. The Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA) serves 27,000 men, women and children annually, both residentially and non-residentially.

However, over the past nine years, funding for domestic violence services has decreased. With mounting costs that include heating and cooling for shelters; client transportation to court, doctor’s appointments and social services; and necessities such as food, clothing and toiletries, shelters are struggling to cover all the expenses.

As victims fight to regain control of their lives, the shelters that protect them must be able to provide basic supplies that we take for granted, like toilet paper and canned food.

I have had the opportunity to visit with victims of domestic violence in shelters across the state. Meeting these individuals and witnessing the need for help, I was moved to act.

With the help of Kroger, the Kentucky Commission on Women, the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Clubs, and KDVA, I began organizing an annual event called “Shop and Share Day.” A one-day drive for items to be donated to domestic violence shelters, this year’s event will take place on Saturday, February 5. Volunteers will be at Kroger stores with a list of needed items and a bin to collect them. For the program’s third annual event, “Shop and Share” will also be supported by the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana.

While doing our weekly shopping, we can all add an extra bar of soap or canned good to our carts to benefit “Shop and Share.” Seemingly small contributions can have a big impact on the lives of Kentucky domestic violence victims.

For more information about Shop and Share, please visit the following website:

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Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear

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