For optimal well-being, children need thriving communities that support strong families, good health, protection from harm, economic security, and a high-quality education. The 2022 Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Book features the latest data on 16 measures of child well-being, showing whether outcomes for children across the Commonwealth have improved, worsened, or stayed the same over a five-year period. While the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to impact many families in ways that do not yet show up in the data, the book identifies ongoing challenges and areas of needed improvement.
Among the indicators highlighted in the book, several help to paint a picture of the health of our youngest Kentuckians and their ability to access the care they need.
- While the percentage of children under 19 with health insurance remains the same (95.7%), 79 counties had a lower percentage of children covered than the state average. We must work to cover the remaining gap so that all children have access to needed health care.
- Kentucky kids accessing preventive dental care has decreased from 80% in 2018-2019 to 78% in 2019-2020, highlighting the need for educating families on the importance of preventive dental care and ensuring children have access to needed care.
- While child poverty rates improved in 116 out of 120 counties compared to five years ago, 19% of children overall continue to live in poverty. Young children are more likely to experience poverty, especially young children of color due to historic and ongoing barriers to opportunities. With over one in four Kentucky kids under the age of five, it is important to make sure all children get a strong start.
- Rates of smoking during pregnancy continue to decline with 103 counties out of 120 showing progress, yet nearly 1 in 6 (15.7%) births are to mothers who reported smoking during pregnancy.
Additionally, the book lifts up a need for more support for mental health and connections to caring adults. When asked what state leaders should prioritize, many young people talked about the need to support their mental health and the importance of having good friends and connections to caring, trusted adults in their lives. In 2020, 15.9% of Kentucky children and teens struggled with anxiety or depression. We know that mental health status and outcomes has a direct connection to oral health.
KOHC knows that social determinants of oral health impact health outcomes of children and their families. Taking a deeper look at what is happening in our communities can help to better assess the needs and create a healthier, brighter future for all Kentucky kids.
Check out the 2022 County Data Book, access the data profile for your county, the updated Data Dashboard including data disaggregated by race/ethnicity, additional data by race, and order a copy of the book.