Where we Live Matters to our Health Statement by Terry Brooks, Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates on Release of Third Annual County Health Rankings.

“Communities across Kentucky now know where their counties stand on health and how they compare to others in the Commonwealth. The rankings serve as a call to action from Oldham County to Owsley, and Martin to McCracken. Even the healthiest counties have areas for improvement.

The good news is that people from all parts of the state are joining forces to close some of the gaps that appear in the County Health Rankings. For example, some communities are working to reduce obesity through encouraging their schools to stay open during non-school hours for community recreation. Others are working with transportation leaders to build roads that accommodate and encourage active modes of transportation such as walking and bicycling.

While both steps are vital to improving the health of children in urban and rural parts of the state, Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) knows that health does not exist in a vacuum. It is connected rather closely to a family’s income. Studies show that when a family’s income increases, their health improves. Through support from the Roadmaps to Community Health initiative, KYA is working with the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children to reduce poverty among Kentucky families and in turn, improve their health. The project aims to adopt a refundable state-level Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and to make the state-level Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) refundable in Kentucky.

We give tax breaks to big corporations and small businesses alike, and it’s just as important that we also give a break to hard-working families struggling to make ends meet. The Kentucky General Assembly failed to act on the credits this legislative session, but we believe these credits might just be one of the pieces to solving the puzzle of poverty in Kentucky.”

For more information about the County Health Rankings, and where Kentucky stands, visit http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/. Updated data will be available on March 3, 2012 at 12:01 AM.