Bowling Green Daily News. November 25, 2022.
Editorial: KIDS COUNT data offer good and bad news
Each year, the Kentucky Youth Advocates releases its KIDS COUNT annual report, which provides insight into children’s lives and well-being – an important barometer.
Clearly, and sadly, one of children’s top concerns via the collected data is school safety. Some background indicates why – firearm deaths of those aged 1-19 soared by 83% from 2013-15 to 2018-20.
Safety in school is one thing on kids’ minds, and also safe places to hang out.
Mental health, in the wake of the COVID epidemic and the horrifying school shootings in America, is showing up as a concern for Kentucky youth.
The report also measures child well-being in terms of education, family and community, economic security and health.
As expected because of missed time in school and reliance on virtual learning, our region’s students have catching up to do in reading and math.
More kids are in foster care and there were large declines in the percentage of foster kids leaving for reunification with their parents or caregivers.
The good news relates to a drop in teen births, fewer incidences of smoking during pregnancies and fewer incarcerated youth per 1,000 children ages 10-17. Also, several southcentral Kentucky counties ranked in the top 10 of lowest percentages of low birth-weight babies.
Child poverty rates decreased in the region as well between 2015-20, with the exception of Warren County.
We may tend to overlook such reports, but KIDS COUNT is a snapshot of what work needs to be done in families, communities and the government to ensure our children are getting the best resources possible in their formative years.
We hope such reports resonate with our community and its leaders, along with state lawmakers and agencies.
Our kids are our most import asset, and we need to guard their childhoods and provide them with the best tools at our disposal.