Kentucky 37th in nation for overall child well-being

06/27/2018 11:37 AM

LOUISVILLE- Kentucky ranks just 37th in the nation for overall child-well being according to newly released data from the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Kentucky’s ranking is due to a combined score in family economic well-being, child health coverage, teen births and parental education.

However, experts are warning an accurate 2020 census count of children and families in the commonwealth is vital to continue to improve child well-being in Kentucky.

“The Data Book tells us some good news for Kentucky kids, as most of the data trends in health, economic well-being, education, and family and community show continued progress,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “But, without an accurate count of all Kentucky kids in 2020, we risk leaving money on the table that could be used for health care, education, and other vital programs many young children in low-income families count on for a healthy and strong start in life.”

The state is ranked 40th in overall economic well-being, while the state has been seeing improvements since 2010—one in four children are still living in poverty. 33 percent of children are living in families where no parent has full-time, year round employment. 8 percent of teenagers aged 16 to 19 are not attending school and not working—a number that has also improved since 2010.

The highest ranking Kentucky received was in health, coming in at 28th in the nation. This high ranking is in part because 97 percent of children in the commonwealth are covered under health insurance, slightly higher than the national average of 96 percent. But—the percentage of low birth weight babies has increased from 2010 to 9.1 percent and the child and teen death rate has also increased with 34 per 100,000 children age 1 to 19 dying.

Kentucky fared well when it came to education as well, coming in at 29th. Nine out of 10 Kentucky high school students graduate on time, putting Kentucky at 4th in the nation. Unfortunately, there has been no significant progress in reading and math proficiency from 2009 and 2017. Currently, 62 percent of fourth graders are below proficiency in reading and 71 percent of eighth graders are below proficiency in math. 59 percent of three and four year olds are not attending preschool.

Finally, Kentucky is ranked pretty low in family and community, coming in at just 39th. However, between 2010 and 201 the teen birth rate in Kentucky fell from 33 percent to 31 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19. The percent of children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma also decreased down to 11 percent. But the percent of children living in high-poverty areas remains at 16 percent.

The 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book is available at To view Kentucky’s state data click here.

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at


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