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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Report: Child abuse in Kentucky declines slightly; most victims younger than 4

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024   

Kentucky saw a 48% reduction in child victims of maltreatment from 2018 to 2022, according to the latest federal data. However, child abuse and neglect in the Commonwealth remains around 60% higher than the national rate.

Shannon Moody, chief policy and strategy officer with Kentucky Youth Advocates, said identifying risk factors around substance abuse, untreated mental health issues and domestic violence can all help reduce child abuse.

"Another risk factor that was identified in this report was inadequate housing. And we know that in Kentucky, especially if we have families who are struggling to maintain housing, that can be a very stressful environment for the entire family and can result in unsafe situations for kids," she said.

Kentucky law requires adults to report suspected cases of abuse. If you are concerned about the safety of a child, call the state's child abuse and neglect hotline at 877-KY-SAFE-1, or 911 in an emergency.

Dr. Melissa Currie, a University of Louisville child abuse pediatrician, said drugs lying around the home and accidentally ingested continue to be a major issue compromising child safety.

"We are seeing just an incredible increase in the number of cases of children ending up in the hospital with ingestions of illicit substances. And that includes legal cannabinoids, but it also includes illicit drugs," she said.

Chris Williams, senior vice president of communications with the nonprofit Kosair for Kids, said more than a decade ago, eight organizations across the state came together with the goal of eliminating child abuse in all 120 Kentucky counties.

"We're making a difference. But we have got to not pull our foot off the accelerator. We've got to continue to speed forward and eradicate child abuse and neglect once and for all," Williams said.

Advocates say policies that would help support victims and reduce child-abuse cases include increased investments for foster care, ensuring students have a safe environment to learn at school, and allowing health-care providers to complete a child abuse and neglect registry check for current or prospective employees.

Disclosure: Kentucky Youth Advocates/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Children's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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