LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The 2018 Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Book offers the latest data on 17 measures of child well-being, showing whether outcomes for children across the commonwealth have improved, worsened, or stayed the same over a five-year period.
For Ohio County, children living in high-poverty areas jumped over 20 percent, more than double the state’s average, and children living “out of home” with foster parents or relatives, more than doubled.
While Muhlenberg County’s rate of children living out of the home increased by over 300 percent, the actually number of children living out of the home is well under half of Ohio County.
Detailed data is available for every Kentucky county at www.kyyouth.org/kentucky-kids-count/.
“Core to our mission, we believe that children of every background and in every part of Kentucky deserve all the tools and opportunities that we as a commonwealth can provide. This book serves as an annual report card for how we are meeting that charge for all of our kids,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.
The 2018 County Data Book allows users to investigate areas in which Kentucky and its counties are making progress and those needing focused attention for improvement. It highlights data in four domains of child well-being: economic security, education, health, and family and community.
Data highlights from the 2018 County Data Book:
- Kentucky has made progress in the percent of children living in poverty with improved rates in 93 out of 120 counties. And yet, nearly one in four Kentucky kids still live in poverty.
- A high school diploma is essential to achieve economic self-sufficiency, and in 119 of 167 school districts, the rate of high school students graduating on time has increased. Progress is still needed to improve graduation rates in the 46 school districts that worsened.
- After decades of progress, Kentucky’s rate of insured children has reached an all-time high at 96.7 percent. All 120 counties have improved rates in children having health coverage.
- Kentucky has improved overall in the percent of low-birthweight babies with 73 out of 120 counties seeing improvements, yet 45 counties are still going in wrong direction.
- The rate of children in out-of-home care continues to rise in 92 counties, fueled by parents struggling with addiction. The number of Kentucky children being raised by relatives outside of the foster care system also continues to rise with a 75 percent increase between 2012- 2014 and 2016-2018.
- More children in approximately half of Kentucky’s counties are living in high poverty areas (where at least 20 percent of residents are poor), which are much more likely to have high rates of crime, violence, and unemployment, and lack access to high-performing schools, quality health care, and safe outdoor spaces.
- This year’s edition also takes a deep dive into the impact of trauma, specifically abuse and neglect, on children’s short- and long-term health and well-being.
- The book’s opening essay explains how studies show high rates of childhood abuse among youth in the juvenile justice system, especially among girls. The essay explains how addressing the root cause of a child’s behavior, instead of criminalizing it, helps break the cycle of abuse and incarceration too many Kentucky youth experience.
For Ohio County, improvements have been made nearly across the board in the economic security, education, and health. A 0.2 percent drop in math proficiency in middle school students was the only blemish on the report as no change or improvements were made in all other categories.
“These pressing challenges call for smart policies, innovative solutions, and focused attention on our priorities. The more we support all Kentucky children to grow up healthy, hopeful, and contributing to the community, the brighter our future looks,” said Dr. Brooks.
“As Kentucky gears up for the 2019 gubernatorial race, we know the toxic political climate will not magically cool down. It’s easy to talk about Frankfort in a cynical tone. But, I would suggest that if there is one thing we can all agree on, regardless of political party or persuasion, it’s that we want the best for kids in Kentucky. There is no better common ground, common sense, and common good agenda than working to improve the lives of Kentucky kids,” said Dr. Brooks.
The 2018 Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Book was made possible with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the 2018 KIDS COUNT sponsors: Passport Health Plan, Kosair Charities, and Delta Dental of Kentucky.