January 30, 2004 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Kentucky children are faring better than a decade ago, especially in the eastern part of the state. Child well-being indicators showed improvement in the latest report of the Kentucky Kids Count Consortium.

The Kids Count report documents the status of children in the Commonwealth and ranks counties on how well their children are doing in 21 areas. It also ranks counties on how much the statistics have improved in the last 10 years.

University of Kentucky Extension Sociologist Gary Hansen is a part of the Consortium and he is encouraged by the report’s results.

“The state as a whole improved on 17 of 21 indicators,” he said. “It also found that some of the counties that traditionally rank low were among those showing the greatest improvement.”

According to a news release on the Kids Count web site, Appalachian counties accounted for nearly half of the counties ranked in the top quarter on relative improvement. 

Tara Grieshop-Goodwin, Kids Count coordinator with Kentucky Youth Advocates, said the improvement in child well-being in some eastern Kentucky counties is promising. Although many counties still trail the rest of the state, some have made great improvements over the last ten years, she said.

The report showed that more mothers received prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy -- 87 percent, compared to 77 percent in 1990. The number of mothers who smoked during pregnancy dropped from 28 to 24 percent.

Hansen said the teen birth rate per 1,000 females aged 15 to 17 significantly dropped over the decade from 42 to 31. The high school dropout rate fell from 5 percent to 4 percent and 96 percent of teens were making successful transitions from high school to work or other activities, compared to 93 percent in 1990.

The report also showed some positive improvements in economic security. The median income for families with children rose from $27,351 in 1990 to $39,979.

“The results of this report are important because they demonstrate that it is possible to improve the well-being of children in this state,” Hansen said. “Developing community-wide efforts to help families raise healthy children and public policy that is child-focused can pay big dividends.”

Kids Count is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. It is a national and state-by-state effort to track the status of children in the United States. For more information, visit the Kentucky Youth Advocates web site.


Writer: Aimee D. Heald 859-257-4736, ext. 267
Source: Gary Hansen 859-257-7586