Our mantra at Kentucky Youth Advocates is “what gets measured gets changed.” That’s why we have collected data on the well-being of children through our KIDS COUNT Project for 30 years. We know that the first step to making positive change for kids is having a shared understanding, grounded in data of what the challenges are. When community leaders come together, these data serve as a powerful catalyst for action.

Throughout 2018 and 2019, with support from UnitedHealthcare, Kentucky Youth Advocates and local partners in 8 regions of the Commonwealth hosted KIDS COUNT Conversations. We brought together community leaders and advocates – including parents, superintendents, human service providers, mayors, and more – introducing them to the 100+ local data points available through Kentucky KIDS COUNT and provided a picture of how kids are faring in their counties.

We facilitated targeted conversations and helped community leaders develop local solutions around a common goal: to reduce the number of children in foster care by 25% by 2025. As a result of these conversations, local communities have launched coalitions, developed pilot programs, brought parenting programs to their counties, and more. Hear from local hosts and check out the projects they have launched: kyyouth.org/conversations/.

Are you passionate about children in your community and ready to develop a plan for action? Using our learnings, we created a new toolkit for how to host a KIDS COUNT Conversation. It’s a step-by-step planning guide that includes a sample timeline, ideas for whom to invite, what materials to bring, and a facilitators guide. We hope this new tool will help you think through what it will take to make your community conversation successful.

As we think about our goals for the next decade, there is no priority more important than ensuring that our kids are getting the very best opportunity to be safe, healthy, and thriving. Are you ready to get started and thinking about using the toolkit? Let us know! We would be glad to help.