18 December 2019 |

RELEASE: Challenges for Kansas families emerge from 2019 state KIDS COUNT data

Dec. 18, 2019

TOPEKA, Kansas — At Kansas Action for Children, numbers aren’t just ink on a page or pixels on a screen. They tell stories.

The stories told by this year’s Kansas KIDS COUNT data release are daunting.  Our state’s children face real and pressing challenges, and lawmakers should step up in 2020 to address problems and embrace opportunities.

This year, KAC focused on the obstacles to receiving high-quality early education for those in rural settings. We added three new data indicators to ensure a more comprehensive picture of the landscape for Kansas kids than ever before. And we continue to call for lawmakers to remove barriers to proven programs that support children’s healthy development.   

“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” said KAC President and CEO John Wilson. “Kids don’t raise themselves — they need devoted caregivers and communities around them.” 

Child care in rural areas

While we know the importance of the early years to children’s long-term success, too often their parents don’t have access to quality child care. According to 2019 KIDS COUNT data, nearly half of rural Kansas counties do not have a child care center option.

Our latest KIDS COUNT blog entry breaks down the challenges for these rural areas, including lack of home-based care facilities, and offers potential solutions. That might mean increasing provider reimbursement rates and making it easier for working families to participate in the state’s Child Care Assistance program. The blog entry also includes three interactive maps that feature county-by-county child care data. 

New indicators added

The Kansas KIDS COUNT data release includes abundant information about how the state’s children are faring. For 2019, we have added three new indicators that give a fuller picture of the challenges and opportunities.

We now include a state-level breastfeeding indicator, which shows how many infants are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months old. We also include county-level and state-level indicators for child care centers and family child care (licensed day care homes and group day care homes). This information can be found on KAC’s 2019 county fact sheets, which include data specific to all 105 Kansas counties. 

Poverty concerns deepen

With 103,000 Kansas kids in poverty, KAC has closely tracked participation in work and family support programs. Kids and families succeed when they are fed, sheltered, and secure. Unfortunately, the news from the 2019 data isn’t good. 

The number of children enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, Temporary Aid for Needy Families, and Child Care Assistance programs has fallen more quickly than the overall poverty rate. That means, quite simply, that barriers are preventing Kansas kids from accessing supports that could transform their lives. 

“When Kansas kids succeed, the whole state succeeds,” Wilson said. “We look forward to working with legislators to make sure that every single child in this great state can thrive.”

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