KENTUCKY (WEHT) – Governor Andy Beshear delivered his weekly Team Kentucky update on Thursday to discuss a variety of topics in the commonwealth.

The governor was also joined by first lady Britainy Beshear, Kentucky Emergency Management Director Jeremy Slinker and Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander for the press conference. Topics that were discussed include the following:

Here are the highlights from the March 9 Team Kentucky update.

Economic development

Governor Beshear announced a new “Supply Kentucky” initiative on Monday to boost job growth, reduce costs and provide more security in Kentucky companies’ supply chains. Supply Kentucky started as a partnership with the Cabinet for Economic Development and the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers to launch CONNEX Kentucky, an online platform to provide a searchable supply chain database for Kentucky manufacturers.

On Wednesday, Governor Beshear said the first round of up to $34 million in state funds is one step closer to being distributed for the development of land and buildings in local communities to support new, good-paying jobs and economic growth across Kentucky. According to a release from the governor’s office, there are 54 site and building development projects moving forward in the initial round of the Kentucky Product Development Initiative.

Beshear announced that February’s General Fund receipts rose 11.4% compared to February of last year and collections for the month were over $1 billion, the largest February receipt total on record. Governor Beshear announced on Monday that Kentucky set the lowest annual unemployment rate in state history in 2022 at 3.9%.

Inclement weather

Last Friday, the governor declared a state of emergency after meeting with leadership from the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service and the Kentucky National Guard. As of Thursday, there are 69 counties and 27 cities that have declared local states of emergency for their community. Joint damage assessments are being conducted across the commonwealth by state representatives, impacted communities and FEMA.

On Sunday, Beshear visited the city of Freemont in McCracken County, where an EF-2 tornado destroyed homes and caused property damage. No Freemont residents lost their life during the event.

“This is a miracle and should remind us all to take warnings seriously and have an emergency plan in place for potential severe weather,” Gov. Beshear said.

As of Thursday morning, the governor’s office reports 3,308 power outages in Kentucky, down from around 475,000 reported on March 4.

Eastern Kentucky flood update

According to the governor’s office, 195 families impacted by flooding in eastern Kentucky last year are housed in travel trailers. Kentucky State Parks are now housing 18 people, down from the 360 people sheltered on September 1, 2022.

Last week, Governor Beshear joined an eastern Kentucky family to break ground on the first home to be partially funded by the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund. The governor also announced the state has secured land for two high-ground communities, Olive Branch in Knott County and Skyview in Perry County, with additional properties actively being considered.

Governor Behsear released a new Request for Proposal for Program Management expertise. The successful bidder will execute the design, engineer and construct infrastructure as well as coordinate with the commonwealth, Team Eastern Kentucky Relief Fund, the Kentucky Housing Corporation and nonprofit home builders to begin home construction.

Senior services

Secretary Friedlander said the meal program for seniors, led by the Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), has served nearly 10 million meals since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary Friedlander also highlighted the Programs of All-Inclusive Services for the Elderly, or PACE, operated by the Department for Medicaid Services and DAIL. A release says the program enables older Kentuckians to access health care services, allowing them to continue living in their home.

Foster care update

Secretary Friedlander announced the number of children in foster care has decreased to less than 8,500 after peaking in 2020 at over 10,000 children. Kentucky is among other states experiencing the most significant drop in children in foster care due to focused efforts.

In 2020, Kentucky became the fifth state to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act. Services include Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams, the Family Preservation and Reunification Program, the Kentucky Strengthening Ties and Empowering Parents program, Multisystematic Therapy Prevention Pilots and the Intercept Prevention Pilot.

The Family Preservation and Reunification Services program has seen a 94% success rate in keeping children in their homes, according to a release from the governor. Since 2019, the Department for Community Based Services has invested $11.4 million in prevention. Costs for out-of-home care have been reduced by $79.1 million.

Team Kentucky All-Stars

First Lady Britainy Beshear named school social workers as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars. The governor also proclaimed March 5-11, 2023 as School Social Worker Week in the commonwealth.

“As parents to two public school kids, Andy and I recognize the important role every teacher and school employee play, and that is especially true of our school social workers,” said First Lady Britainy Beshear. “To these heroes working daily to support Kentucky’s children:  We see your value. We see the hard work you put in daily to make a difference, and we are so grateful for your efforts and the positive impact you’re making for kids across Kentucky.”