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COVID-19 pandemic deepening racial disparities, study finds

The 2020 Kids Count Data Book focused on how the "dual pandemics" of COVID-19 and racial injustice affected Kentucky's kids.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Every year, Kentucky Youth Advocates releases a study looking at different aspects of everyday life for children in the state. The Kids Count Data Book examines things like poverty, education and access - or lack of access - to resources.

Their vision is for Kentucky to be the best place in America for children, but the reality is much different - especially with the added difficulties from the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the latest Kids Count study, about 2/3 of Kentucky's Latinx households with children reported losing income from employment since the start of the pandemic. More than half of Kentucky's Black households with children reported not having a job for several months.

Kentucky Youth Advocates Executive Director Terry Brooks said while the pandemic has presented new challenges for families of color, he doesn't believe that their struggle is exclusive to 2020.

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"Our speculation is COVID has amplified what was there before," Brooks said. Looking at the data, he said poverty levels in Jefferson County were already on the rise before the pandemic hit.

"Anyone who is surprised by the data around families of color apparently were sleeping before," he said. "I don't think it's changed anything. I think it has just deepened every disparity."

While the data isn't encouraging, he believes change is possible.

"It is a serious problem but it is not a mountain we can't climb," Brooks said. 

Brooks said the mayor, city council, community nonprofits and small business leaders can work together to level these disparities. Some main issues that need to be tackled include rent security, childcare deserts and food deserts.

Western High School Basketball Coach Brandon Britt sees many of these issues firsthand, but he hopes that he can help make a difference. Despite the pandemic, he tries to stay invested in his students' lives.

"Kids didn't ask for the situation they came in," Britt said. "All we can do is help the young people the best we can."

The 2020 Kentucky Kids Count Data book is available to view online through Kentucky Youth Advocates. While the book is focused on data, it also includes resources and information on groups who are working to bridge the gaps.

Contact reporter Kristin Pierce at kpierce@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook


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