A child's future can be thwarted for years afte enduring several negative family events—a divorce, substance abuse in the home, an incarcerated parent, said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, citing research.
And Kentucky has among the highest percentages of children who have had three or more of those adverse experiences in their homes, Brooks said.
He's speaking to data released this morning in the report Kids Count: The First Eight Years, from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Kentucky Youth Advocates.
Ten percent of Kentucky children have had three or more of those negative experiences, tied Montana for the highest percentage in the U.S., Kentucky Youth Advocates said. That stat is paired with data showing that 52 percent of Kentucky children 8 or younger live in households that are below 200 percent of the federal poverty line—the level families need to get by, Brooks said.
Brooks said the report points to a need for a more integrated approach in dealing with issues like justice and economics.
“We have to begin to think about young kids in that holistic context," Brooks said. "We have to do that in Louisville city hall, we have to do that in a county courthouse in Harlan and we have to think about it in Frankfort.”
Policymakers approaching issues that aren't obviously about kids—such as criminal justice—should consider how their decisions affect young people, Brookes argues.
He's calling on top leaders on the state to consider ways to better approach those issues.
“You know, I would like to see the governor or a Greg Fischer call a summit around the first eight years and bring together all sectors, and let us hammer out what counts and what doesn’t count.”
The report suggests programs like home-visits for new parents to help the issue.
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