By Jonna Spelbring Priester General Manager With a handful more children in 2006 than 2000, Henry County has made some progress when it comes to serving the needs of its children according to the latest Kids Count Data Book released earlier this month. The data book reports information, by county, based on 47 indicators of child well-being. According to Kentucky Youth Advocates, the report indicates Kentucky as a whole is heading in the right direction, while work remains to be done. In Henry County, the same holds true. “The findings are encouraging; Kentucky must log steady improvement if we hope to compete with other states,” Terry Brooks, Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said. “Yet we can’t ignore major areas where child well being is getting worse in Kentucky, such as poverty, child maltreatment, and child deaths.” From 2000 to 2006, the number of children aged 0-17 increased by 38 to 3,858, with 33 coming in the 0-4 age group. From 2004 to 2005, the number of births to mothers without a high school degree remained steady at 44. Teen births declined during two two-year periods. From 1999-2001, there were 100 teen births, but from 2003-2005 there were 84. Repeat births to teen mothers in the same periods decreased by three, with 16. Of the births – 650 from 1999-2001 and 616 from 2003-2005 — roughly the same number of babies weighed less than 5.5 pounds (57) and roughly the same number were born at less than 37 weeks of gestation (77). The number of births to mothers receiving prenatal care increased from 80 to 84 percent. The number of mothers reporting smoking during pregnancy increased slightly from 31 percent in 2004 to 34 percent in 2005. Infant mortality rates declined in Henry County from four during the 1999-2001 period to two during the 2003-2005 period. Some measures considered marks of poverty showed increases in the study. Ninety-four more children (710) in Henry County were found to be living in poverty in 2004. More children received food stamp benefits in 2006 (811) than in 2000 (524). Free and reduced breakfast and lunch numbers increased as well in both the Henry County Public and Eminence Independent School Districts. From 2000 to 2006, 168 more students, or 624, in HCPS received free/reduced breakfast, and 126 more, or 874 students, received lunch through the program. From 2000 to 2006 in Eminence, three more students received free or reduced breakfasts, and 41 more, or 250 total students, received free/reduced lunch. The number of children receiving Medicaid, often considered an indication of poverty, increased from 793 in 2000 to 1055 in 2006. Similary, the number of KCHIP recipients increased from 126 in 2001 to 185 in 2006. The number of children eligibible for Medicaid and KCHIP receiving dental services increased from 365 in 2003 to 599 just three years later. More money owed to Henry County children through child support was collected, though the percentage of collection declined from 2000. In 2000, 65 percent of the $1.98 million owed to Henry County children was collected, compared to 61 percent of the $2.73 million owed in 2007. The number of child victims of abuse increased more than 200 percent from 18 in 2003 to 67 in 2006. Three percent of those in 2006 were repeat victims. Investigations of child abuse have increased in number from 2003 to 2006, including 46 investigations of physical abuse, 20 investigations of sexual abuse and more than 100 investigations of neglect. “Increased participation in programs such as KCHIP, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and WIC is both good and bad,” Tara Grieshop Goodwin, Deputy Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said. “We’re glad to see families who need these supports are able to receive them, yet increased need, as reflected in the poverty rate, is an obvious concern.” The full data book for Kentucky can be found at www.kyyouth.org. E-mail us about this article at email@example.com.