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Nearly Half Of Mercer Children Live In Poverty, Study Says

Mercer County Kids Count Profile Released

Information drawn from the 2018 Kids Count Data Book, compiled by the The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Jennifer Marsh

Herald Staff

Mercer County’s family, health, education and economic security profile from the 2018 Kentucky Kids Count report has some surprising statistics, according to Community Health Educator for the Mercer County Health Department, Emily Steer.

The Kids Count Profile compares statistics from 2010-2012 to 2015-2018.

“Some things were good and some not,” said Steer. “I was pleased to see that the number of pregnant women smoking had gone down but seriously discouraged that 49 percent of Mercer County children live in high poverty conditions.”

Steer said the report illustrates the need for programs such as Cradle School, the Backpack Program, Nurturing Parent and Healthy Access to Nurturing and Development (HAND).

Cradle school is a program designed for infants to 3-year old children and a caregiver to learn developmental skills. The Backpack Program provides food for children through weekends and holidays. Nurturing Parent classes are held at the extension office and HAND is a once a week in home information, resource and activity service for pregnant women and parents of infants.

Information drawn from the 2018 Kids Count Data Book, compiled by the The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“We are making a difference because we saw a three and one half percent rise in school readiness and I attribute that rise to Cradle School,” said Steer. “But the other numbers show a need for more parent participation in our programs especially from our target groups.”

The report showed a rise in the number of families in Mercer County who are below the federal poverty line rising from 42 percent to 48 percent as well as a rise in children living in high poverty areas rising from 30 percent to 49 percent.

Steer is concerned about the numbers and wants people to know there are several places that can help Mercer County families.

“Myself and Lucy Hockersmith at the Mercer County Extension Office keep track of all the different programs available for parents,” said Steer. “We have a lot of opportunities and the Christian Life Center helps too.”

Education statistics rose slightly with 37.8 percent of kindergartners ready to learn in Mercer County and 42.4 percent n Burgin. Elementary and Middle school proficiency in Math and reading rose for all schools with Mercer County Elementary reading at 51.4 percent and Burgin at 63.3 percent and middle school math for Mercer holding at 42.5 percent and Burgin with 57.7 percent.

The largest drop in the study came with youth incarceration within the juvenile system where Mercer County dropped from 40.4 percent to 13.6 percent.

The Children in out of home care rose dramatically to 42.4 percent from 23.7 percent.

While teen births dropped to 32.3 percent from 50.9 percent.

For more information contact Steer at 734-2229 ext 147.

To learn more, check out this week’s edition of the Harrodsburg Herald.

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