Fewer Kentucky children are living in poverty now compared to 2017. That’s according to the new Kentucky Youth Advocates County Data Book, which looks at 17 measures of child well-being. The percentage of children living in poverty improved in 93 out of 120 counties.
Despite the improvements, nearly one in four Kentucky kids still live in poverty. On the bright side, Kentucky saw high school graduation rates increase in 119 of 167 school districts, and more children throughout the state have health insurance. Terry Brooks, Executive Director with Kentucky Youth Advocates, said the Commonwealth has the highest rate of children living in kinship care and the second highest rate of children with parents who are incarcerated.
“Well you can’t possibly look at either one of those phenomenon without talking about the opioid epidemic and frankly poverty,” he said.
Brooks said Kentucky is in a “perfect storm” of poverty, the opioid epidemic and the impact on kids. He said while the nation’s economy has improved, not much has changed for the state’s poorest.
“Those areas where there are high poverty rates have not felt the impact of economic recovery or economic uptick,” he said.
Brooks said one way to improve high poverty areas is to create micro-enterprise zones, residents who have a business idea get some seed capital to get started. The report shows more children in about half of Kentucky’s counties are living in high poverty areas, which are more likely to have high rates of crime, violence and unemployment.