Pandemic Kentucky: Kentucky Youth Advocates Bring Fresh Insight – Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

Pandemic Kentucky: Kentucky Youth Advocates Bring Fresh Insight

Kentucky Youth Advocates has published a powerful look at Kentucky’s present, frank and clear on pandemic damage, racial injustice, and how they intersect. That analysis appears in the opening essay of the newest Kids Count County Data Book and it’s essential reading for our times and for work on Kentucky’s Big Bold Future.

Chart courtesy of Kentucky Youth Advocates

The report brings important insight from the Household Pulse Survey, started by the Census Bureau in April to understand the pandemic impact.  With Survey dates listed in parentheses, here are some key points for households with children:

  • 53% reported losing income from employment since the pandemic (June 25 to July 21)
  • 35% expected to lose income in the next month (June 25 to July 21)
  • 16% reported not having enough food in the past seven days (August 19 to September 14.)
  • Only 72% reported being able to pay rent on time the previous month (August 19 to September 21).

KYA also insists that we see how these losses interact with racial disparities built into our communities pointing out connections like these:

  • Before the pandemic, Black and Latino Kentuckians were more likely to have low-wage, insecure jobs including jobs in food service, so they predictably experienced more intense job losses as the pandemic rolled in.
  • Those households had smaller savings, so losing jobs put their ability to pay rent or buy food in danger more quickly.
  • Black and Latino families are less likely to have robust internet access, making virtual instruction especially challenging for those households.
  • Latino households have had weaker access to pandemic relief: some supports explicitly have explicitly some of their families, and some families have held off on applying for others out of concern that accepting public dollars could make them ineligible for future citizens.

And, of course, the most direct pandemic impacts are hitting Latino and Black households harder, as more members of those families have been sickened by the coronavirus and with those Kentuckians consistently overrepresented in the lives we are losing.

Overall, the essay is fundamental orientation on Kentucky’s present. It goes deep on how inadequate child care, excessive incarceration, and other challenges play into pandemic losses, systemic racism, and enduring trauma around us. If you need glimmers of hope, the report does show Kentuckians having better health coverage and Kentucky schools having important success at getting food to children in this hard period. After the essay, the report also presents classic data on Kentucky’s children’s economic security, education, health, and family and community status, with breakouts by county. Those indicators are pre-pandemic information, but remain important showings of strengths and weaknesses we brought with us into the current crises.

The big thing is this: to build a Big Bold Future, we must understand where we are building and the situations of the neighbors with whom we build. KYA’s analysis gives us an important chance to learn about exactly that.

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