Parents & teachers ‘have to be more vigilant’ to prevent bullying in schools and online

Insider Louisville LogoFor a significant number of school-age children, heading back to school is a happy time of reuniting with friends, meeting new teachers, and adopting new routines. But for an unfortunate few, it also means coming face-to-face with a most unwelcome sight – the bully.

Dr. Terry Scott is Director of the Center for Instructional and Behavioral Research in Schools at the University of Louisville’s Department of Special Education. He says that bullying in schools may not be more prevalent than it used to be, but social media provides more opportunities for bullies to do damage these days.

“What we’ve found is that if you simply go into a school and tell kids to stop bullying, the bullying tends to go underground,” he says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville. “And cyber-bullying is a great place for it to go underground because adults aren’t seeing every exchange the kids have.”


National Foster Care Month shines spotlight on 400,000 youth who need assistance

May is National Foster Care Month, when we pay special attention to the more than 400,000 children and youth in foster care. There’s an overwhelming need for individuals, families, and communities to become involved as foster parents, respite providers, volunteers, or mentors of children who need an adult role model.

Passport works very closely with the Kentucky Department of Community Based Services (DCBS) to help increase the adoption or placement of children in DCBS custody. DCBS Commissioner Adria Johnson recently said that DCBS moved children 5,558 times last year.

The National Foster Care Month website is full of resources to help support children, youth, and their families, especially those involved in foster care. Some ways to help include the following:

  • Becoming a foster parent
  • Volunteering as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) for children
  • Being a mentor or “supportive adult” in a youth’s life
  • Joining or hosting a fundraising event
  • Donating services, goods, computers, etc. to older youth in foster care
  • Lending a hand to help current foster parents and caregivers with their day-to-day needs

Visit the section dedicated to communities and take the opportunity to learn more about how to become a foster parent or find other ways to contribute to the positive development of children and youth involved with foster care. You can also join Passport on the National Foster Care Month Campaign Facebook page, which is open to all individuals, organizations, groups, or agencies with an interest in foster care. The page is your place to share, learn, and promote events, resources, stories, and photos celebrating National Foster Care Month.

For more information, contact Child Welfare Information Gateway at or call (800) 394-3366.


Kentucky children continue to struggle with their health depending on where they live, according to new report

KY Youth Advocates logoThe annual Kentucky Kids Count report has measured the overall well-being of Kentucky’s children for 26 years, and this year’s report finds that today’s youth are healthier and completing high school on time despite mounting economic inequality and increasingly unaffordable college tuition.

“We need to continue to implement policies and practices that help all children, and in order to do that, we must face some uncomfortable truths,” Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said in a release. “One of those truths is that the ZIP code in which children live, the amount of money their family earns, and the color of their skin are pervasive and powerful influences on the childhood they will have and the future they can embrace.”

The report looks at four major categories – Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family & Community – and ranks the states accordingly. Kentucky showed improvements in 11 of the 16 major categories, en route to an overall ranking of No. 35 (Minnesota is No 1, while Mississippi is No. 50). In fact, Kentucky showed improvements in all four Health categories (low-birthweight babies, children without health insurance, children and teen deaths per 100,000, and teens who abuse alcohol or drugs) and was ranked No. 16 in the nation in the Health category.

To see the Kentucky profile, please click here. To see the full report, please click here.

The Kentucky Kids Count report, released by KYA, is part of the 26th annual release of the County Data Book, which ranks every Kentucky county on overall child well-being through 16 measures in four areas: economic security, education, health and family, and community strengths.

The 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book is produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy based in Baltimore and working across the country that is devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes.


Study takes closer look at teens’ mental health, and what parents can do to help

Insider Louisville LogoA recent survey published by Kosair Children’s Hospital showed that 1 in 4 parents is concerned about their children’s mental health. In part, that’s because today’s youth are dealing not just with traditional conflicts such as peer pressure, hormones and puberty, but also with the pressures that come from social media and the availability of information on the internet.

Dr. Kenneth Pearson, a pediatrician with Norton HealthCare, said in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville that he often sees children who are bored with life and hopeless. He adds that bullying that takes place online is a difficult thing for a young person to deal with.

“If those kids have a parent without coping skills, then the teen has no one to learn from,” said Dr. Pearson. “And social media plays a role. Social media is making kids less able to interact face-to-face and express their feelings, and pick up body language. Posting vs. in-person interaction is a less effective communication.”

The survey also revealed that 48.9 percent of middle school students reported being bullied at school. And among high school students, 1 in 4 reported feeling sad or hopeless.


Thousands of Kentucky babies and children exposed to secondhand smoke each year, new report shows

No Smoking SignThe Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children has released a report on the impact of exposure to secondhand smoke on our state’s youngest residents, and the data is astounding.

The report, titled “Clearing the Air for All Kentucky Children,” says thousands of babies and children across the Commonwealth are subject to immense dangers from secondhand smoke, particularly in communities without a strong smoke-free policy. About 69 percent of Kentucky’s children live in a community that does not protect all children and pregnant women from secondhand tobacco smoke in workplaces and other enclosed public places.

More than 28,000 babies were born in 2013 in Kentucky counties without strong smoke-free policies, putting them at risk of serious health complications. Pregnant women exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have babies born with a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds), which increases the risks of developmental and intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, vision loss, hearing loss, and much more.

Kentucky’s rate of low-weight newborns is among the worst in the nation, ranking 39th out of 50. Also, more than 10,000 Kentucky babies (or more than one out of every five) are born to a mother who smoked during pregnancy – the highest rate in the nation.

To learn more, please click here. To download the full “Clearing the Air for All Kentucky Children” report, please click here.

The Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children is a coalition of non-profit, public, and private organizations that speaks with a common voice in order to have a better shot at making positive changes for Kentucky’s children. The Blueprint is led by Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) and supported by Kosair Charities, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Metro United Way, PNC Foundation, and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. For more information, please go online to or call 502-895-8167.


Latest Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Book shows how children are faring in all 120 counties

KY Youth Advocates logoThe 2015 Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Book – released by Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) – helps take a closer look at how children are faring in your county, where your county ranks on overall child well-being, and what has happened in the last 25 years in Kentucky to help kids succeed.

The 2015 County Data Book ranks all Kentucky counties on overall child well-being based on 16 indicators that relate to economic security, education, health, and family and community strength.

“Governors and the Kentucky General Assembly made significant strides in policies to help kids over the last quarter century, such as the Kentucky Education Reform Act, juvenile justice reform, and ensuring more children have health insurance,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of KYA. “But we still face dire challenges. With more than one in four Kentucky children living in poverty; almost half of fourth graders not proficient in reading; and more than one in five mothers smoking during pregnancy, we have a long way to go to get Kentucky where it needs to be for children.”

Passport Health Plan is proud to be the Signature Sponsor of the 25th edition of the County Data Book. The 2015 County Data Book and county-specific profiles for all 120 counties are available at The County Data Book is a county-level counterpart to the 2015 national KIDS COUNT Data Book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in July.


More Kentucky children have health care coverage under Medicaid expansion, new report shows

KY Youth Advocates logoThe number of Kentucky children without health insurance fell by 27% over a one-year period, according to a new report by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families and Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA), helping the state move from 28th place to 15th place in state rankings on children’s health care coverage. Children in both urban and rural areas saw improvements in their uninsured rates.

“Once again, the benefits of establishing kynect and expanding health care coverage to more Kentuckians have been independently substantiated in a new report released this week by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families and Kentucky Youth Advocates,” said Governor Steve Beshear. “While most people would agree that a healthy child is a better, more productive student, the report found even greater returns in the long term. Children with Medicaid coverage were less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate from college, making them healthier and more successful adults who are less likely to be reliant on government assistance. When we invest early and often in the health and well-being of our children, we are investing in the economic future of our Commonwealth. And the return we see on that investment is priceless.”

The report, which compared 2013 and 2014 Census data, estimated that the number of uninsured children in Kentucky declined from about 60,000 in 2013 to about 43,000 in 2014. The report authors attribute the gains to the strong Medicaid and KCHIP programs and improvements to Kentucky’s health coverage system, such as the creation of kynect.

“When children have health care coverage, they are able to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy and show up for school ready to learn,” said Terry Brooks, KYA executive director. “It also means their families can afford to take them to the doctor when they are sick so they don’t wind up having to rely on more expensive hospital care if they get sicker.”

The report also notes that improvements to children’s coverage have been shown to provide a strong return on government investment. Research shows that children with Medicaid coverage were less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate from college. They also had better health and economic success as adults making them less reliant on safety net programs.

Families who would like to enroll their children in health care coverage should call 1-855-459-6328 or visit Families can enroll their children in Medicaid or KCHIP at any time; open enrollment for private health plans begins on Sunday, November 1.

The full report can be found online by clicking here.


ABCs Can Help Reduce SIDS cases: Alone, on the Back, in a Crib

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), which includes SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), claims the lives of about 85 children under age 1 each year in Kentucky. But many of those deaths are preventable, according to public health officials.

Hoping to reduce those numbers, Kentucky plans to launch an education and awareness campaign Oct. 1 to remind the public of the “ABCs” of safe sleep for an infant.

“Alone, on the back, in a crib,” Dr. Ruth Shepherd, the state’s director of maternal and child health in the Department of Public Health, told the Courier-Journal for a recent article.

Dr. Shepherd is heading up the campaign timed to coincide with national SIDS Awareness Month, which starts on Thursday, October 1. For more information, go online to starting Thursday.

And learn more about what the March of Dimes is doing to help reduce the incidences of SIDS, premature births, and other health risks, go online to


More American Children Being Diagnosed with ADHD, FDA Report Shows

adhdThe number of U.S. children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is rising, according to according to a news release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

And it’s important for the disorder to be recognized and treated, because untreated ADHD can cause serious problems for children, such as falling behind in school, difficulty making and keeping friends, and having conflicts with parents, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The number of Americans aged 4 to 17 diagnosed with ADHD rose from about 8 percent in 2003 to 11 percent in 2011, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found. The disorder typically appears between the ages of 3 and 6, and it can continue through the teen years and into adulthood.

“It’s helpful to engage with the different individuals who are involved in a child’s life when managing the disorder,” Dr. Tiffany Farchione, a child psychiatrist at the FDA, said in the news release.

For more information, check out the American Academy of Family Physicians website here, or see a HealthDay news article here. You can also find more ADHD resources on our website at


New Booster Seat Law Takes Effect Around Kentucky

boostA new law that takes effect Wednesday (June 24) changes the rules for children in booster seats in Kentucky.

The new law says children under 8 years old and between 40 and 57 inches tall have to be secured in a booster seat while riding in a vehicle. Drivers caught breaking the law face a $30 fine, though violators who show proof of buying a booster seat can avoid the fine. Erika Janes, Child Advocate at Kosair Children’s Hospital, told WDRB-TV that the booster seats will lift the children up off the vehicle seat and improve the fit of the adult lap and shoulder seatbelt.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show that more than 90% of child safety seats in the United States are installed incorrectly. When used correctly, child safety seats are 71 percent effective in reducing infant fatalities, 67% effective in reducing the need for hospitalization, and 54% effective in reducing fatalities for children ages 1 to 4.

For more information about the new law, please click here.