More than two in five Black children living in poverty in Louisville Friday, Nov 12 2021 

More than one in five Kentucky children are growing up in poverty, but in the state’s most urban counties, Black and Latinx children are especially impacted.

According to data released Wednesday by Kentucky Youth Advocates, 205,000 children — more than 20% of the state’s youth population — live in a household that earns less than $26,000 a year for a family of four. And nearly half of Kentucky’s children are living in households with annual income below 200% of the federal poverty line. 

The commonwealth had the fourth-highest child poverty rate in the nation in 2019.

“What would happen if certain basketball teams in the commonwealth were rated in the bottom third of all Division I programs? We would not be very happy,” said Terry Brooks, KYA’s executive director. “And yet, that’s exactly where Kentucky kids are on a national basis.”

A deeper look reveals children of color are more vulnerable, especially in major metro areas. The data show that 42% of Black children in the state’s urban centers of Jefferson and Fayette Counties live in poverty. The same is true for Latinx children in Fayette County. 

That means a Black child in Louisville or Lexington is nearly four times as likely to be living in poverty than white children who live in the same areas. 

The high rate of poverty for Black and Latinx children who live in Jefferson and Fayette Counties experience is nearly the same as the overall child poverty rate in the state’s six poorest counties: Lee, Wolfe, McCreary, Owsley, Clay and Bell. All are in southeastern Kentucky.

“Individuals and children of color are faced with more significant barriers to housing, financial success, education at all levels, healthcare, employment and ultimately a bright future,” said  Shamitha Kuppala, a high school senior and mental health advocate in Louisville. “And these disproportionate obstacles create a cycle.”

While Kentucky’s overall child poverty rates have improved, dropping 5% since 2014, advocates said there continue to be significant racial disparities that need to be addressed statewide.

Brooks said decades of policies and practices have impacted the opportunities for families of color to earn higher wages, build equity and pass that financial success on to their children. Specific barriers include racial gaps in educational access and an overrepresentation of Black workers in low-wage jobs. These obstacles also lead to higher rates of mental health problems and emotional distress.

“All kids face a long climb in their journey to adulthood, but kids of color have to climb a steeper hill due to longstanding inequities and specific barriers based on their skin color or country of origin,” he said. “When we invest in what all children need and tailor additional support for children who face greater barriers, each Kentucky kid will have a brighter future.”

Given the cost of housing, food and transportation, most families need an income of at least twice the official federal poverty level to cover basic needs. In Kentucky, the median household income for Black families with children is $39,600, $45,600 for Latinx families, $41,200 for families of two or more races and $69,300 for white families.

And the pandemic hasn’t helped. 

According to the data, Kentucky’s Black families were more than twice as likely as white families to not be able to pay for housing during the first year of the pandemic. In addition, one in five children of color experienced food insecurity last year.

“We have to be intentional about this,” said state Senator Gerald Neal of Louisville. “This data collection is important. We must acknowledge the racial and class disparities and address them head on. And the legislature has a particular responsibility in that regard, in terms of how we do policy.”

Advocates say state- and federal-level change can address these systemic disparities, starting with policies that work to close income gaps, strengthen assistance programs for low-income families, invest in child care infrastructure and expand the federal Child Tax Credit.

Research conducted by the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank, earlier this year found that expanding the Biden administration’s Child Tax Credit would decrease child poverty in a typical year by 40%.

“The significance of this data lies in one key fact, I would say, and that is that kids count,” Kuppala said. “Every single Kentuckian experiences childhood and we can’t let their potentials be diminished by externalities like location, like poor health care, or institutional inequities or race.”

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Youth suicides, self-harm on the rise in Louisville Friday, Oct 29 2021 

NOTE: If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one or would like emotional support, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Suicides by Jefferson County youth reached a decade high in 2021 as physicians across the country declare a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. 

So far this year, 29 people aged 25 and under have died by suicide in Louisville — the highest number recorded for this age group since the county began keeping track in 2014. The youngest among them was a 12-year-old girl who died less than two months ago.

Young people of color are disproportionately represented. Of the 53 total deaths by suicide in this age group since the start of 2020, more than 40% of them were Black, Hispanic or Indigenous. In total, Jefferson County’s population is only 22% Black, 6% Hispanic and less than 1% Indigenous, compared to 71% white.

According to data from the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office obtained by KyCIR, the annual number of deaths by suicide for people 25 and under increased by more than 80% over the last eight years. 

Experts say the pandemic only exacerbated an already concerning trend in mental health issues for young people.

“Every single child in the world has at least one adverse childhood experience right now. And that is COVID,” said Dr. Katy Hopkins, medical director for the Pediatric Integrated Behavioral Health Program at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville.

Across all age groups, there have been 117 deaths by suicide in Louisville so far this year, with 41- to 55-year-olds, usually the most impacted age group, making up nearly a quarter of those cases.

Young people under the age of 25 represented a similar share of this year’s deaths — the highest proportion since at least 2014. That’s the only age group to experience an increase in suicides overall this year.

A national emergency

Norton Children’s is one of more than 220 American hospitals that joined physicians in declaring a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. In a joint statement this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association said health professionals have witnessed “soaring rates of mental health challenges” among children, adolescents and their families since the pandemic began. 

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, self-harm and suicide cases increased 45% in the first half of this year among 5- to 17-year-olds nationwide, compared to the same period in 2019. The data also show emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts were especially high among girls aged 12 to 17, rising by more than 50% in that time period.

Dr. Hopkins said she is noticing similar trends in Louisville. 

In 2020, Norton Healthcare emergency departments saw 25 pediatric patients for self-harm. This year so far, they’ve seen 95 — a nearly 300% increase.

On top of an overall rise in stress and isolation, Hopkins said young people don’t necessarily have access to the coping strategies they had prior to the pandemic, including time with their friends and other peer groups. 

“I certainly am getting more and more referrals for anxiety disorders and seeing more teenagers with concerns of depression,” she said. “Healthy development is hitched to a person’s ability to connect with people their own age and connect with peers in person. And that has really been limited over these past two years.”

Adults’ mental health and stress can also directly impact children, she said. When parents are dealing with economic instability, job loss or health concerns, as many have during the pandemic, it can affect the whole household. 

And many young people are struggling with the deaths of their caregivers due to COVID-19. 

A national study showed that more than 140,000 children lost either a primary or secondary caregiver since the pandemic began. Of those, 65% were Black, Hispanic, Native American or Asian. In Kentucky, at least 2,500 children are estimated to have lost a parent or grandparent who provided them with a home and basic needs, including love, security and daily care. 

“Addressing the loss that these children have experienced — and continue to experience — must be one of our top priorities, and it must be woven into all aspects of our emergency response, both now and in the post-pandemic future,” said CDC researcher Susan Hillis in a press release.

Louiville’s young people of color

In Louisville, COVID-19 is just one of the traumatic experiences young people, and especially young people of color, faced over the last two years. The police killing of Breonna Taylor brought national attention to the city and spurred months of protests against racism and police brutality, which experts say has significantly impacted the mental health of Black youth.

“We’ve been battling a triple pandemic in Louisville,” Dr. Hopkins said. “We have the pandemic of COVID. We have a pandemic of a racial reckoning that has been a long time coming in our community that we really have needed to face for a long time. And then we have the aftereffect of both of those things, which is the mental health issues.”

Of the youth under 25 who died by suicide in Louisville since 2020, 40% were people of color — 28% Black, 8% Hispanic and 4% Indigenous.

“This is an alarming statistic, and something that we should definitely be paying attention to,” said Steven Kniffley, clinical psychologist and chief diversity officer at Spalding University.

According to Kniffley, COVID-19 has “put on center stage” the longstanding racism and discrimination experienced by people of color that extends to housing, the workplace and education. In Louisville, and across the country, communities of color are also more heavily burdened by illness and death caused by COVID-19.

The increased isolation caused by the pandemic, Kniffley said, combined with instances of police brutality and racism in Louisville over the past two years, has been a breeding ground for internalized racial trauma in black communities specifically. 

“As they witness these experiences of racism and discrimination, our Black and brown youth have had no place to have conversations about what this means for them and what this means for their safety and well-being as youth in our country,” he said.

As the leader of Spalding’s Collective Care Center, one of the nation’s only behavioral health clinics to specialize in treating race-based trauma and stress, Kniffley said experiences of racism and discrimination can often lead to internalized hatred and low self-worth, contributing to rising suicide rates. 

For the Black community specifically, the biggest increase has been among males.

“What we know is in the last 20 years, suicides have quadrupled for Black males,” he said. “And now suicide is the third leading cause of death for Black males across the lifespan.”

Of the young Black people who died by suicide in Louisville this year, all but one were males. 

For Kniffley, the key to reducing suicide attempts in young people is education and resources. Louisville, like the rest of the country, has a shortage of psychologists, and especially psychologists of color. 

“Here in the city of Louisville, I’m one of very few child psychologists and maybe the only child psychologist that is a Black male,” he said. “So it is very hard for us to access services, especially for those folks that look like us.”

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one or would like emotional support, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish speakers. Here are some additional resources:

Youth: Ways to take care of yourself (National Suicide Prevention Hotline)

Local resources:

Spalding University’s Collective Care Center – 502-792-7011 – Offers free therapy for those who have experienced race-based trauma

Mental Health LouSearch a database of mental wellness providers in Louisville

National Alliance on Mental Illness LouisvilleFind support groups, local emergency resources and therapy options.

WAVE-3 “It’s Your Life” Youth Help Line – (866) 589-8727 – Talk to specially trained peer counselors

YMCA Safe Place Services – (502) 635-5233 – A network of community partners where teens can go to get help

Crisis text line – Text HOME to 741741

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Students: What you need to know about voting in the 2020 election Wednesday, Sep 30 2020 

By Katie Volpentesta —

The 2020 Presidential election is just six weeks away, so it’s important to be educated on voting options as well as candidates and policies down the ballot.

While the COVID-19 pandemic complicates in-person voting options, the Jefferson County Board of Elections is doing everything they can to keep Jefferson County residents informed of their options, including registering to vote, requesting and sending in a mail-in ballot, and voting in person both early or on Election Day.

“In a normal election we have about 232 locations within 623 precincts, and now with coronavirus, a lot of things have changed,” said Jordan Kelch, public relations administrator at the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office. Typically, early or mail-in voting is only allowed if a voter meets one of ten special criteria that prevent you from being able to vote on Election Day.

Instead of smaller polling locations throughout the county, the board has created four election super centers that will allow for social distanced voting in large, open areas. Early voting will take place at the Kentucky Exposition Center, the YUM! Center, the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, and a fourth location in the east end that is yet to be announced.

Early in-person voting is from Oct. 13 to Nov. 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and voting on Election Day, Nov. 3, will be at the same locations from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In order to vote either in person or via mail-in absentee ballot, residents of Jefferson County must be registered to vote. Luckily, this process is available and easily accessible online. The last day to register to vote in Kentucky is Oct. 5 at 4 p.m.

Additionally, the deadline to order a mail-in ballot in Kentucky is Oct. 9 by 11:59 p.m. These resources, as well as information on polling places, candidates and issues on your ballot, are available on the Jefferson County Clerk’s elections site.

“There’s 1,200 ballot styles for this election. Jefferson County is really large, so there’s lots of different areas with small city races,” Kelch said. “It all comes down to your legislative district and the neighborhood you live in.” The Jefferson County Clerk’s site can show you your exact ballot.

U of L’s Vote Everywhere initiative looks to keep students informed about voting options, deadlines and ways to stay informed as well. They want to ensure that students know the power of their vote and what it means to be informed.

“There’s so many deadlines and it gets really confusing, even for a student like me who is super civically engaged,” said Vote Everywhere Ambassador Wyn Garfinkle-Plymesser.

By hosting events on campus and frequently updating their Instagram page, @UofLVE, Garfinkle-Plymesser and her co-ambassador Arianna Moya engage with students and promote civic engagement within the U of L community.

“We just want to be a space where people can come and get the answers straight up and know what’s really going on,” said Garfinkle-Plymesser. “If they have any concerns about voting or their vote being suppressed, we wanna be the space that students can come to and have their concerns heard and questions answered.”

While Jefferson County is doing their best to make this election as accessible and safe as possible, Kelch recommends that residents vote early if possible and don’t procrastinate sending in a mail-in ballot.

“If you’re done and you’ve signed it completely, both the goldenrod envelope and exterior envelope, and you’ve followed all the directions and are ready to turn it in, please do so immediately,” Kelch said. “Election Day will obviously be very busy.”

For further information regarding the upcoming general election in Jefferson County, please go to

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Churchill Downs announces there will be no fans at the Kentucky Derby Thursday, Sep 3 2020 

By Cole Emery–

The Kentucky Derby will have a different look this year as Churchill Downs officials announced there will be no fans in attendance this year. This came after they planned for a limited attendance of 23,000 guests.

The Kentucky Derby has been held every year since 1875 and has been run on the first Saturday in May every year since 1946. “Louisville is fortunate to have America’s longest continuously held sporting event and the brand awareness associated with this grand tradition,” said Karen Williams, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism.

The good news is that the tradition will continue this year amidst the global pandemic that has reshaped the world since March. The bad news is that the 146th running of this iconic race will be the strangest in history.

“Churchill Downs has worked diligently over the last several months to plan a safe Derby with a limited number of spectators in attendance,” reads a Churchill Downs statement. “We were confident in that plan, but … with the current significant increases in COVID-19 cases in Louisville as well as across the region, we needed to again revisit our planning.”

The decision came after Jefferson County, where Louisville is located, was deemed a “red zone” in terms of coronavirus cases and considered in a “critical” situation. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear agreed with the decision, calling it, “right and responsible,” according toWLKY.

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Back to School Guide Sunday, Aug 4 2019 

Back to school right around the corner and it is time to get those school supplies, new shoes, and some great new threads for the kids to sport. We have some helpful information to help you make the grade. We know parents have lots of questions when it comes to sending the kiddos out the door and we are here [...]

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