TOPEKA – Today, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book. The new report shows that of the 16 child well-being indicators analyzed, Kansas has improved in 12 key areas, among them, childhood poverty. The report also demonstrates that more parents are working.
“Everyone agrees that our children deserve a path out of poverty, and that’s why I’m heartened that childhood poverty has decreased in Kansas every year since 2012, said Governor Sam Brownback. “Working to make Kansas the best state in America to raise a family, we created programs like the Kansas Reading Roadmap to help at-risk students learn to read, and began welfare-to-work reforms to encourage the dignity of work.”
According to the report, Kansas ranks 15th overall in the country, a significant improvement from last year’s overall ranking of 17th in the nation. The state ranks seventh in the nation for economic well-being. Kansas improved in all four of the indicators that are analyzed by the foundation when compositing childhood well-being.
The four indicators that are analyzed include the number of children in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in households with a high housing cost burden and teens not in school and not working. Four-thousand fewer Kansas kids are living in poverty compared to last year’s report.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) assists low-income families through a wide range of programs and services. In recent years, with legislation such as the Kansas HOPE Act, programs such as food, cash and child care assistance have increasingly incentivized employment over dependence.
“We hear success stories every day from clients who walk through our doors feeling helpless, but with encouragement, employment training and skills-building instruction, they are obtaining careers to support their families,” said DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore.
Since January 2011, 42,231 new employments have been reported among cash assistance clients.
The other area in which Kansas excelled in all four indicators was the Child Health ranking. The 2017 report revealed a 3 percent increase in the number of children with health insurance and a 3 percent decrease in the number of teens who abuse alcohol and drugs. Also, the number of child and teen deaths per every 100,000 in Kansas dropped from 33 to 26.
In addition, the number of Kansas children in single-parent families decreased, while the number of high school graduates graduating on time increased. With the exception of Nebraska, no other neighboring state ranked as high as Kansas.
Compared to the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book, Kansas has improved in nearly every area assessed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
DCF serves as the State social service agency, providing oversight for the well-being of children and their families. DCF focuses on child protection and strengthening families by working to reduce the number of children in State care, providing needed services and a safety net for the most vulnerable Kansans.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) collaborates with the DCF to ensure childhood health and safety. KDHE promotes optimal health for Kansas women and infants, children and adolescents through system development activities and grants to local communities.