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2024 Kids Count Data Book shows Kentucky's young people are struggling

stock photo of a classroom
stock photo of a classroom

Kentucky's young people are struggling in many different fields. That's according to the 2024 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

In each domain of child well-being, Kentucky ranks within the bottom 10 of states for at least one data indicator. That includes percent of children in poverty, percent of 8th graders proficient in math, percent of youth who are overweight or obese, and the teen birth rate.

Terry Brooks is the executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. He said this is not a very optimistic scenario.

“We rank in the high 30's, meaning we're one of the bottom 25% of states in the nation. Again, when you look at those hard numbers, it's hard to take a lot positivity from this year's report.”

Brooks said he is left with more questions than answers. He hopes to see improved efforts from legislative leaders in Frankfort. For the first time in more than 30 years, the theme is education.

Brooks said the commonwealth's children are falling behind.

“Seven out of 10 4th graders cannot read at a nationally proficient level, 8 out of 10 8th graders cannot do math at a minimal national proficiency level, 1 out of 4 kids in Kentucky were chronically absent from school last year.”

Brooks said these numbers are a problem today, but this could easily translate into a problem for the future. He said this could have serious consequences for the future of Kentucky's workforce.

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Stan Ingold is WEKU's News Director. He has worked in public broadcasting for 18 years, starting at Morehead State Public Radio before spending the past 10 years at Alabama Public Radio. Stan has been honored with numerous journalism awards for his public radio reporting.
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