SHEPHERDSVILLE - While much has been made over the improvements in the educational levels for Bullitt County students, little has been discussed about the overall well-being of children in this area.
But, according to the 2013 KIDS COUNT data, Bullitt County is doing very well in providing overall care for their children.
In fact, of the 120 counties in the commonwealth, Bullitt County ranks 10th in the entire state.
A total of 16 indicators were used in determining the county ranking numbers. It is based on the National KIDS COUNT project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The study looked at 16 key indicators in four areas - economic security, education, health and family and community. The indicators measure a child’s well-being from birth through early adulthood.
This is the first year a county ranking has been provided in the report.
The information was released by the Kentucky Youth Advocates, which is an organization whose mission is to promote programs which improve the lives of children in the state.
In the first part of this series, The Pioneer News will look at some raw numbers on how Bullitt County ranks with the state numbers in terms of population and demographics.
In Bullitt County, the number of children 17 and younger total 18,251. Of that number, 17,283 were white, with 463 hispanics, 314 African Americans and 191 “other.”
This is a trend which is a little different than for the state.
Of the state’s 1,018,238 children, 838,236 are white and 107,807 are African American. Another 53,795 are hispanic and the final 18,400 are listed as “other.”
Of the county’s children, 4,346 are listed as being four years of age or younger.
Of the preschool age youngsters, 51.6 percent in Bullitt County do not attend a formal pre-school program. This compares to 56 percent in the state.
There are 45 licensed child care providers in Bullitt County and 2,815 in the state. Of those in Bullitt County, 18 have achieved the STAR rating.
Of those children who receive child-care subsidies, 1,194 are in licensed day care centers, with 35 in certified homes, 34 in a registered provider and another 25 in a registered home.
The child care capacity at regulated facilities in Bullitt County is listed at 3,390.
In looking at the statewide figures, Terry Brooks, executive director of the Kentucky Youth Advocates, said much work needs to be done.
“Investments that promote strong families will not only help children succeed as the workforce of our future but will also increase economic development in the present,” said Brooks, a longtime educator before joining KYA. “It’s time to make children and families a priority in our state by investing in programs that keep parents working and promote economic security.”
In setting up the rankings, each domain measured addresses factors in improving life for youngsters in the community.
For example, in looking at indicators in the health domain, Brooks said low birthweight babies and smoking during pregnancy are issues which must be dealt with.
“We know smoke-free policies will reduce smoking during pregnancy and reduce the number of babies born at a low-birthweight,” said Brooks. “It’s time to do what works and enact a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law. We need to protect all children, not just those lucky enough to be born in a smoke-free community.”
In the family and community domain, Brooks pointed out the number of youth ages 10-17 who are incarcerated for offenses that may not threaten the public safety.
“The opportunity exists to make significant changes in the Juvenile Justice System during the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly. The Unified Juvenile Code task force by Sen. Whitney Westerfield and Rep. John Tilley is making progress and we expect strong recommendations to result from their work. Significant reforms could put Kentucky youth on a better track for success, while also improving public safety and using tax dollars efficiently on what works,” said Brooks.
Evaluating the education domain, Brooks pointed to the importance of early education.
The 2013 study shows that while preschool provides a strong environment for early learning, 58 percent of those 4 years and younger do not have the opportunity to attend pre-school.
“The first eight years are crucial to a child’s development,” said Brooks. “Expanded preschool and restoring Kentucky’s Child Care Assistance Program can ensure children are on the right track for success.”
KYA is a strong advocate for child wellness issues and is vocal in Frankfort with legislators.
“The 2013 County Data Book is a call to action for local, state and federal leaders,” said Brooks. “Budgets always require tough choices, but especially now, Kentucky cannot afford to fail to invest in kids.”
Part Two: A look at Bullitt County’s performance in the first of four domains - economic security.
The top 10 counties:
About this series...
Each year, the Kentucky Youth Advocates release a survey on the Kids Count. This looks at various factors on child welfare. The Pioneer News will look at four areas examined in the annual report.
See part two of the series here.
See part three of the series here.