An annual report of the health insurance and welfare of Kentucky youth shows how the “dual pandemics” of COVID-19 and racial injustice are disproportionately harming Kentucky's children of color.

The 2021 Kentucky Kids Count County Data Book – a trove of statistics about Kentucky children, available in both English and Spanish – reveals how Black and Latinx children in Kentucky are more likely than white children to reside in a family group suffering from unemployment throughout the pandemic. Kids of color are also more prone to have forfeit a caregiver to the coronavirus.

“The disparate impact on children and families of color is exacerbated in this pandemic,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, in a virtual press conference unveiling the data book.

The pandemic threatens to reverse or undercut recent progress within the commonwealth, including downward trends in childhood poverty, student homelessness, and uninsured children.

“There was, pre-pandemic, real progress for Kentucky's kids in areas of coverage of health, graduation rates, and rates of juvenile incarceration,” Brooks added. “And even amidst that progress, almost a quarter of a million kids in Kentucky existed in poverty in pre-pandemic conditions.”

The report from Kentucky Youth Advocates and the Kentucky State Data Center in the University of Louisville shows about two-thirds of Kentucky's Latinx households with children lost income since the pandemic started – higher than the overall state rate of 53%.

Over the summer, when Kentucky households completed the surveys, adults in about 45% of Black households with children reported being employed in the past week, far lower compared to 63% of white households who reported working.

Karina Barillas, executive director of La Casita Center in Louisville, ascribed the disparities to some lack of access to resources in addition to fear in Latinx communities.

Latinx and immigrant children are “afraid to be profiled, are afraid of the inability to see their parents again,” she said. The pandemic forces vulnerable parents to determine between likely to work and getting sick, or staying in home and facing the potential of homelessness or hunger. “These are really the issues,” she said.

That message was echoed by Gov. Andy Beshear, who appeared inside a pre-taped message to convey the seriousness for a commonwealth rich in rates of kinship care, or whenever a child is raised with a relative such as a grandparent.

“In a state that per capita has more grandparents raising their grandchildren than ever before, we risk so many children losing that last individual who is there of looking after about the subject,” Beshear said.

Kentucky Youth Advocates will host an active podcast-webinar on Wednesday morning which will explore the data further.

Graham Ambrose is definitely an investigative reporter covering social services and youth issues. He is a study for America Corps member. Contact Graham at