Latest KIDS COUNT report reveals 'discomforting truths' for Kentucky kids

12/08/2016 02:21 PM

Kentucky’s kids are deeply impacted by their race, income, and where they live, according to a recent report which drilled into all 120 counties in the state.

The headline is not new, but Kentucky Youth Advocates, the force behind the information found in the 2016 Kentucky KIDS COUNT data book, is trying to drive leaders and individuals to think about confronting those truths.

“Our real push is that no kid’s outcome should be determined by the color of their skin, their geography or their parent’s income,” KYA Executive Director Terry Brooks, said in an interview on Pure Politics.

The report, Brooks said really highlights the opportunity gaps created by disparities as it relates to race, geography and income in Kentucky.

Rather than focusing on lofty revisions, leaders in the General Assembly need to focus on the incremental gains, rather than searching for comprehensive reforms — which have been elusive in Frankfort to deal with poverty, Brooks said (2:42 in the interview).

On the point of small steps to take in dealing with poverty, Brooks said lawmakers could do something to address the issue by raising the eligibility of child care supports.

“It’s not going to change the world, but it’s a real step forward,” he said.

Brooks is optimistic that there could be “common ground, small steps ahead” among those could also be a micro-enterprise type model where businesses offer an angel investment type supports to innovators in high poverty urban and rural areas.

There is also a judicial component to tackling the inequities faced in Kentucky.

“We know that there’s not a state in the country that has a higher percentage of children whose parents are incarcerated than in Kentucky,” Brooks said.

There are many reasons for the rates of incarceration, including the drug epidemic in the commonwealth. But adding to the issue is the “minor offenses,” Brooks said that lands parents behind bars.

“It’s not about tough on crime, or soft on crime, it’s smart on people,” Brooks said. “Are there ways we can create diversions and alternatives for them?”(5:53)

Watch the full interview with Brooks, including a discussion on how some of the state’s leaders in the General Assembly come from the lowest ranked counties for kid’s well-being in the video below.

Read the full KIDS COUNT report here.


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