New Data Shows Well-Being of Kentucky Kids Worsens

by Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service

The latest Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book shows Kentucky, along with other Appalachian and Southeastern states, ranks in the bottom tier nationwide for overall child well-being.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, explained Kentucky’s childhood poverty rate had been declining for the last several years. But he said the new findings reveal a troubling reversal in poverty trends and other indicators of a thriving childhood.

“When we look at the measures in economic well-being and education and health, and community and family, the overall picture shows that not only are we falling behind other states, but we’re falling behind Kentucky’s own track record,” Brooks observed.

The report also highlighted the nation’s widespread lack of affordable and accessible child care. Kentucky’s average child care center cost for toddlers in 2021 was around $7,000 dollars per year or 27% of a single mom’s income. The data showed in recent years, 12% of young children in the Commonwealth lived in families in which an adult quit, changed, or refused a job because of child care issues.

Brooks added the findings should send a signal to the state’s gubernatorial candidates, Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Democratic incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear, supporting kids should be the focus of policy.

“And it should send a message to both the House and Senate,” Brooks emphasized. “Unless we want our kids to fall further behind, they have to be prioritized in terms of the policy action and budget decisions about to be made in Frankfort in 2024.”

American Rescue Plan funds have helped expand the Child Care Assistance Program, education programs for early educators, and family child care homes, as well as the Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership program. Advocates said more federal funding is needed to ensure the programs can continue to reach those who need them the most.

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Republished with permission.