Kentucky Coalition For Healthy Children Newsletter

Issue 21 | February 2024

Working collaboratively on policies and practices in and around schools that promote equity and improve the physical, social, and emotional health and well-being of children, youth, and families.
The opinions and viewpoints expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the positions of all coalition partners.
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KCHC Member Highlights

Rally | Ignite KYouth: Enforce Tobacco 21 Rally | February 15, 2024

The Ignite Youth rally is hosted by #iCANendthetrend Youth Advisory Board. i#CANendthetrend is a peer-led, evidence-informed e-cigarette prevention and empowerment program. The rally at the Capitol will engage young adults from around the Commonwealth to advocate for stronger enforcement of Tobacco 21 law in Kentucky. Given the growing vaping epidemic among children and youth in Kentucky, these young advocates are rallying for increased protection, accountability, and also for support for those young Kentuckians who are suffering from the health impacts of vaping. 

Location: Kentucky State Capitol, Frankfort, KY

Questions? Contact [email protected] 

Learn more here. Register here.

Rally | 874K – ARMS Rally | February 27, 2024

Location: Kentucky State Capitol, Frankfort, KY

All individuals with a disability, their family members, advocates, and providers are welcome! The rally is to recognize the importance of Kentuckians with disabilities, advocate for adequate funding to remove the Home and Community Based (HCB) Waiver waiting lists and provide services and supports to meet the needs of 874,000+ Kentuckians.

Learn more here. RSVP to [email protected] 


Conference | Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling (KYCPG) Educational and Awareness Conference | March 7-8, 2024

Location: Owensboro, KY

KYCPG’s 27th Annual Educational and Awareness Conference is a learning opportunity to gain critical knowledge of gambling addiction, prevention, and treatment practices. The theme, Improving Awareness and Treatment of Gambling Disorder reflects the maturing evidence of recognizing, minimizing, and treating problem and addicted gambling. It is open to anyone wishing more information on gambling’s impact on individuals, families, and society. It is particularly relevant to behavioral counselors and prevention specialists confronting or preparing for the rising incidence of addiction. The conference also will feature a breakout presentation on electronic/video gaming addiction. Registration is required.

Register here.

Webinar Recording | Health for a Change: ACEs, Substance Use Disorder, and Prevention 

This webinar dove into the connection between Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs) and SUD, while sharing what’s going on in Kentucky to address it. Dr. Connie White, Deputy Commissioner for Clinical Affairs at the Kentucky Department for Public Health, Barry Allen, President of The Gheens Foundation, and Dr. Shannon Moody, Chief Policy and Strategy Officer at Kentucky Youth Advocates, presented the data and contributing factors around ACEs, the policy and strategies to address them, and what community members and families are asking policymakers to do in terms of prevention.

Watch the recording here.

What's New in Children's Health

Equitable Access and Opportunity for Children of Color

A decade after the release of its initial Race for Results report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has released the 2024 Race for Results Report, which presents various key measures of child well-being, grouped in four areas: early childhood, education and early work experiences, family resources and neighborhood context. The report expresses the concern that too many children of color are blocked from reaching essential milestones of well-being, with wide disparities persisting for American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, and Latino young people. “Youth of color constitute a slight majority of young Americans, and 1 in 4 children in the U.S. grows up in an immigrant family. The report stresses the importance of equitable access to opportunity for children of color, emphasizing the role of their contributions in maintaining the country's health and economic security.”


Among the recommendation made in the report to improve out­comes for all children:


  • Con­gress should expand the fed­er­al child tax cred­it and the earned income tax credit.
  • Law­mak­ers should con­sid­er baby bonds and children’s sav­ings accounts — pro­grams that con­tribute pub­lic funds to ded­i­cat­ed accounts to help fam­i­lies save for their children’s futures.
  • States that have not expand­ed Med­ic­aid access should do so.
  • Pol­i­cy­mak­ers must cre­ate tar­get­ed pro­grams and poli­cies that can close well-being gaps for young peo­ple of col­or, because uni­ver­sal poli­cies are impor­tant but insuf­fi­cient for con­tin­ued progress.

Chronic Absenteeism from School and Children’s Health

There has been a notable increase in chronic absenteeism in schools since the Covid-19 pandemic. However, even before the pandemic, nationwide 8 million students (1 out of 6) were chronically absent (i.e. missed 10% or more of school for any reason). By the end of school year (SY) 2021-22, that number in many states almost doubled to 1 out of 4 students, especially in elementary school. Early district and state SY 2022-23 data show rates remain high.


Economically disadvantaged students and families as well as Native American, Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Pacific Islander students are disproportionately affected, as is reported by Attendance Works , an organization with a web site dedicated to the issue, with research and resources, including the  All Hands on Deck: Today’s Chronic Absenteeism Requires A Comprehensive District Response and Strategy report.


More research has emerged surrounding the link between student chronic absence and health. To begin with, chronic absence is a warning sign that a health-related condition or a social determinant of health may need to be addressed. Children with acute and chronic health conditions are already more likely to be absent from school. And students who are chronically absent from school are more likely to display behavior and discipline problems, engage in unhealthy activities and risky behaviors. Chronic absence is an early indicator that students are off track for early reading goals, completing middle school, and graduating from high school.


Another organization which has taken a close look at the issue, the Healthy Schools Campaign, has released the following toolkit, Addressing the Health-Related Causes of Chronic Absenteeism: A Toolkit for Action.

The Importance of the Child Tax Credit for Families

The Urban Institute and the Brookings Institute’s Tax Policy Center released the policy brief Evidence Suggests Expanding The Child Tax Credit Could Ease Hardship Among Families With Kids this January. Additionally, the Urban Institute has issued the report In the Absence of the Expanded Child Tax Credit, Many Families with Children Faced Material Hardship in 2022 which expands on this issue. Considering that one in five (21%) children overall continue to live in poverty in Kentucky (36% of Black children and 31% of Latino children live in poverty in Kentucky compared to 20% of White children), this policy would be a considerable support to the well-being of children and their families.

During the current 2024 Legislative Session, Senate Bill 12 proposes the establishment of a refundable Kentucky child tax credit for taxpayers with qualifying children under the age of six. The bill authorizes a maximum credit of $1,000 per qualifying child for individuals with income below $50,000 for single taxpayers and $100,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly. 

A Youth Food Access Poem


The following poem by is by De’Mon Burse Wilborn, Youth Advisory Council Member of West High School, Columbus City Schools, a School Based Health Center school.

Food insecurity and mental health are


A topic that deserves to be reflected.

When access to food becomes a concern,

Emotional well-being can take a turn.


For those who struggle to find a meal,

Stress and anxiety can become very real.

The worry of not having enough to eat,

Can lead to depression and feelings of defeat.


Nutrition plays a vital role in our brain,

Lack of proper food can cause it strain.

Mental health can suffer, it’s true,

When hunger becomes a constant issue.


But let’s remember, we can make a change,

By supporting organizations that arrange,

To provide food for those in need,

We can help them thrive and succeed.


Together, we can fight food insecurity,

And promote mental health with sincerity.

Let’s spread awareness and lend a hand,

To create a world where everyone can withstand.

In Your Community

H20 to Go!

In 2018, Lee County School District was inspired by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthy Schools Institute to provide a healthier environment for its students to thrive. So, the district decided to prioritize students’ access to clean, cold drinking water.

Every year, school administration and staff reported more and more concerns about the types of drinks coming into school buildings in the hands of students. It was not uncommon to see students at the elementary level walking in with soda cans in each outside backpack pocket, and lunch bags packed with sugar-loaded fruit drinks. Lee County used its Healthy Schools grant funds to install water bottle filling stations. Higher water consumption is known to have many health benefits and data suggests it can improve brain function. Replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water is a strong childhood obesity prevention strategy, as well as one to improve oral health.

The filling stations received great reviews from both students and teachers. The district says a lot of the success is due to the support from staff and it was evident teachers were encouraging the students to use the filling stations. Some even set up storage systems where students could keep their water bottles.

Lee County was one of nine districts within the state which partnered with the Kentucky Department of Education from 2018-23 in the implementation of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Schools Cooperative Agreement to develop and implement school health infrastructure, best practices, programming, and policies. Anyone with questions can contact Carla Lyons at [email protected]

Take Action!

The Kentucky Coalition for Healthy Children and its partners have developed bill trackers to follow specific legislation being proposed this session:

Bill Tracker | Kentucky Coalition for Healthy Children (KCHC)

These are the bills with impact on children’s health in particular in the school setting and bills with an impact on children’s health. The tracker is groups into three tabs, Children’s Health / Schools, Health / Healthcare/ Other Social Determinants of Health with an Impact on Children's Health.

Bill Tracker | Kentucky Voices for Health (KVH) 2024 Health Justice Bill Tracker

KVH will be tracking and supporting legislation during the 2024 Regular Session that promote racial equity and reduce health disparities. Please see below our 2024 Health Justice Bill Tracker and stay tuned for updates as legislation continues to be filed through the end of February.

View the Bill Tracker here.

Bill Tracker | Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA)  General Assembly Bill Tracker

View the Bill Tracker here.

The following are resources and links to advocate during the 2024 Legislative Session.

In Case You Missed It

Associated Press | Republican-led Kentucky House passes bill aimed at making paid family leave more accessible

Northern Kentucky Tribune | New survey of 770 child care provides warns of looming funding cliff without substantial investment

Wave 3 News | Scathing audit finds extreme excessive force, cruel discipline at state’s juvenile facilities

Cook With Us!

Follow along as we make healthy, kid-friendly recipes with a focus on seasonal ingredients.

Laissez le bon temps rouler and knock off the chill with this hearty gumbo.

Contact Us!

Do you have an upcoming event or exciting news to celebrate with our coalition? Please email Alexandra Kerley at [email protected] to be featured in an upcoming KCHC Newsletter!

Amalia Mendoza | KCHC Newsletter | 502-326-2583
Become a Member
Current KCHC Steering Committee Member Organizations:

Kentucky Department for Public Health

Kentucky Family Thrive

Kentucky Department of Education

Kentucky Health Departments Association

Kentucky Nurses Association

Kentucky Primary Care Association

Kentucky Public Health Association

Kentucky Psychological Association 

Kentucky Voices for Health

Kentucky Youth Advocates

KY Parent Teacher Association – 16th District

Pritchard Committee for Academic Excellence

Seven Counties Services

Spalding University

St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Trans Parent Lex

United Healthcare

University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences

University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Studies