Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New KIDS COUNT County Level Rankings on Child Well-Being Reveal Need for Smart Investments in KY Kids

From Kentucky Youth Advocates Press Release: 

The 2013 Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Book, released today by Kentucky Youth Advocates highlights the need for smart investments to ensure kids in all counties have the best opportunity to thrive in childhood and succeed as adults.

This is the 23nd annual release of the Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Book, part of the Kentucky KIDS COUNT project. The KIDS COUNT project monitors progress for Kentucky’s one million children on over 100 indicators of child well-being. This year’s book introduces a new approach, ranking Kentucky counties on overall child well-being and on four domains critical to that well-being: economic security, education, health, and family and community strength. Each domain includes four indicators of well-being, for a total of 16 indicators.

Youth Incarcerated in the Juvenile Justice System

A notable indicator in the family and community domain is the number of youth incarcerated in Kentucky’s Juvenile Justice system. In 2010-2012, Kentucky incarcerated 51.9 young people ages 10-17 for every 1,000 children that age. County incarceration rates varied widely, with 38 counties exceeding the state rate. The data show that most Kentucky youth are incarcerated for offenses that do not threaten public safety and could better be treated in the community than in a juvenile jail. Incarcerated youth face a greater probability of poor education, less employment, and poor mental health outcomes, and they are at increased risk of being incarcerated again.

“The opportunity exists to make significant changes in the Juvenile Justice System during the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly. The Unified Juvenile Code Task Force led by Senator Whitney Westerfield and Representative 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,” added Brooks.