Kentucky ranks in the bottom 20 states for overall child well-being, advocacy group says

Report cites gains in education, health

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comJuly 25, 2012 

Kentucky is among the bottom 20 states for overall child well-being, ranking 35th, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2012 Kids Count Data Book.

The report, released Wednesday, shows that children in Kentucky suffer from financial instability but fare better in the areas of education and health.

From 2005 to 2010, the percent of children living in poverty grew by 18 percent, with more than one in four, or 26 percent, living in poverty. The 2010 federal poverty line is an annual income of less than $22,113 for a family of two adults and two children.

"This year's Kids Count book is not just a call for action, it also generates questions about how to improve child outcomes," said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

The report ranks states on overall child well-being based on 16 indicators organized in four main groups: economic well-being, family and community, education and health.

It ranked Kentucky 37th in economic well-being.

Children living in households with a high housing cost burden increased from 27 percent in 2005 to 32 percent in 2010, the report said.

The percent of children living in families where neither parent has full-time, year-round employment increased by 12 percent in Kentucky from 2008 to 2010, according to the report.

To assist families, Brooks said, state and federal lawmakers should support targeted job training programs and increase access to unemployment insurance.

Kentucky ranked 38th in areas of family and community, seeing a 13 percent increase in the percent of children in single-parent families from 2005 to 2010 and an 18 percent increase in the percent of children living in high poverty areas from 2000 to 2010.

The state ranked 28th in education, making gains from previous years in the percentage of children not attending preschool, the percentage of children not proficient in reading and math, and the percentage of high school students not graduating on time.

The state ranked 25th in health, improving from past years in the percentage of low birthweight babies, the percentage of children who had no health insurance, and the rate of child and teen deaths per 100,000 children ages 1 to 19, the report said.

Amy Swann, Kids Count coordinator for Kentucky Youth Advocates, said the report could not be compared to last year's, when Kentucky ranked 41st, because it includes new indicators of well-being.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 231-3409. Twitter: @vhspears.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service