Kentucky has improved its overall rating in an annual report measuring the well-being of children around the country, but the number of kids living in poverty is at an all-time high.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book measures 16 indicators in education, health, economic well-being and family and community.
Kentucky is rated 34th overall in the nation based on these indicators, which is the commonwealth’s best rating in at least the last decade. But the 27 percent of children living in poverty is at an all-time high.
“Last year was the very first year—so this was the second year—that we now have to use the adjective ‘more than’ one in four kids live in poverty,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.
Indicators for health and education improved over last year mirroring national trends, but Brooks says there is still room for improvement. Investments in a child’s early years are important, he says, and recent cuts to early childhood programs like the Child Care Assistance Program and Kinship Care programs need to be restored.
“The trajectory for where the overall well-being of children is headed is a positive for the commonwealth,” he says.
But Kentucky still struggles to turn around the economic indicators, which Brooks says have followed similar downward national trends over the last several years. And despite the positive gains in health and education indicators, Brooks warns economic indicators usually set a tone for future results.
Kentucky ranks 32nd overall in the four economic well-being indicators. According to the report, 37 percent of Kentucky children in 2011 lacked parents with secure employment compared to the national overage of 32 percent. Nationwide, 23 percent of children live in poverty compared to Kentucky’s 27 percent.
To see the full report, click here.
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