Jefferson County KIDS COUNT Data Book Reveals Common Challenges and Unequal Opportunities Across Metro Council Districts

2013JeffCoDataBook_FrontCoverJeffersontown, KY – In a project made possible through the James Graham Brown Foundation, Kentucky Youth Advocates released today the Jefferson County KIDS COUNT Data Book: Child Well-Being Across Louisville Metro Council Districts. The Jefferson County KIDS COUNT Book presents data at the Council District level to provide a deeper look at the status of children and families across Louisville Metro. The data can help local leaders and community members target efforts and resources most effectively to create positive outcomes for children in Jefferson County.

This snapshot of child well-being covers economic security, education, health, safety and the community context in which children live. The data reveal that many of the challenges children face to becoming successful adults occur in every Metro Council District. For some indicators, children in parts of the city face much greater challenges than children living in other neighborhoods.

“In Louisville Metro, we know the opportunities for children in the South End are different than those for children in the West End and for children in the East End,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “But many of the challenges shown in the data cut across Council Districts. To be a strong city, every child – no matter their neighborhood – needs the opportunity to thrive. The Jefferson County KIDS COUNT Book opens the door for residents and leaders to combine their own experiences with the data to better identify priorities for children at a neighborhood level and across the county.”

“We need quality data to make smart decisions for our city,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Having data for each Council District will help guide our decisions to create opportunities for children to achieve their greatest potential. Taking action to that end as a compassionate city will be good for the children, for their families, and for our local economy.”

Children who are Homeless

Children who are homeless face significant challenges both in learning and also in health and other areas. The number of Jefferson County Public Schools students who were homeless has grown substantially in recent years and exceeded 12,000 students during school year 2011-2012. Children who are homeless live in every Council District in Jefferson County ranging from 4.1 percent in Council District 16 to 26.7 percent in Council District 10.

“The number of kids in our county who don’t have a place to call home would fill 167 school buses,” said Brooks. “We need to act on opportunities to reduce homelessness, including providing reduced property assessments for developers to create quality affordable housing and creating a dedicated revenue stream for the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Families would also be in a stronger financial position with a local and/or state Earned Income Tax Credit to help working families keep more of their hard-earned dollars.”

Low-weight births

Babies born at low birthweight face increased risk for serious health problems as newborns, as well as greater risk of death in their first year. Across every Council District, more than one in every twenty babies was born at low birthweight.

“We know a number of factors that can help every child get a strong start in life. First, we can work to ensure pregnant women have access to appropriate prenatal care. Second, we can screen for smoking during pregnancy and offer pregnant women resources to quit smoking during pregnancy,” said Brooks.

Early Childhood Education

The first five years of a child’s life set the foundation for him or her to succeed in school and to become a productive adult later in life. Yet, too many children entered Kindergarten at Jefferson County Public Schools without having received adequate preparation to be ready to learn. The proportion entering ready to learn ranged from 21 to 68 percent across Council Districts.

“Without strong early childhood educational experiences, a child will face an uphill battle through elementary school and beyond,” stated Brooks. “Vast opportunities exist through local, state and federal efforts to ensure children have high-quality learning experiences. Our community can support first-time parents’ participation in the home visiting program, HANDS, to support learning from birth. We can also support state efforts to expand access to Kentucky’s preschool program for more low-income children in families barely making ends meet.”

Safety

All children need to be protected from harm and exposure to violence. In Jefferson County, more than 7,500 children experienced child abuse or neglect from 2010 to 2012. The rates of child abuse or neglect ranged from 2.3 per 1,000 children in Council District 16 to 33.6 per 1,000 children in Council District 6. Child abuse and neglect, as well as other negative experiences, can cause toxic stress in children that can inhibit brain development and place them at increased risks for abusing drugs or alcohol, developing mental illnesses, or developing physical health problems.

“No child should be a victim of abuse or neglect, and we must do everything we can to prevent this trauma for children,” stated Randy Coe, president of Kosair Charities. “The Face It Campaign is tackling this issue in our community, and everyone has a part to play in that effort to help end child abuse in Louisville. We can help connect parents with services in our community that work, like the HANDS home visiting program for first-time parents. We also need to take a look at other proven programs that can help families work through rough patches and keep the children safe.”

The Jefferson County KIDS COUNT Book also includes many other indicators in each section, as well as indicators on how community assets and obstacles impact children in Jefferson County.

“The data presented serve as a picture of kids in Louisville Metro and offer many opportunities for improving that picture. We hope this new resource creates conversations and spurs action both in individual Council Districts and across Jefferson County. We can do better for our kids,” added Brooks.

View a complete copy of the Jefferson County KIDS COUNT Book at www.kyyouth.org. The data from this book will be available on the KIDS COUNT Data Center at http://datacenter.kidscount.org/ky. If you would like copies of any of the infographics displayed in the report, please contact Andrea Bennett at abennett@kyyouth.org.

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Kentucky Youth Advocates is a non-partisan, non-profit, children’s advocacy organization. KYA represents a voice for Kentucky’s most precious asset – its youth.  We believe that Kentucky’s youth deserve the opportunities and resources necessary to ensure their productive development and health.

Kentucky KIDS COUNT is part of a nationwide initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation to build better futures for disadvantaged children. For more information on the KIDS COUNT initiative, visit www.aecf.org.