TOPEKA – The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its 2018 KIDS COUNT Data book. The most-recent report shows Kansas in a strong position, with the state ranking 13th in the nation in overall child well-being. This is a significant improvement from last year’s overall ranking of 15th.
Of the 16 child well-being indicators analyzed for the report, Kansas has improved in 11 key areas, among them, importantly, childhood poverty. The report demonstrates that more high school students are graduating on time, more children have access to health insurance, and more parents are working, lifting their families out of a cycle of government dependency and into self-reliance.
“This KIDS COUNT data clearly demonstrates that Kansas has made great strides for its youth and the Kansas model for welfare reform should be a blueprint for the rest of the nation to follow,” said Governor Jeff Colyer. “These aren’t just numbers, these are actual children that have been helped and I am glad to see the policies we have in place are having such a positive impact on vulnerable families. We will build upon this foundation and continue to emphasize statewide improvement in childhood well-being.”
Some of the substantial Kansas improvements in the KIDS COUNT Data book include:
- The percentage of Kansas children in poverty dropped to 14 percent, from 18 percent in 2010.
- The percentage of children whose parents lack secure employment declined to 20 percent from 27 percent in 2010.
- The percentage of children in families where the household lacks a high school diploma dipped to 10 percent from 12 percent in 2010.
- The number of teen births, per 1,000, is 22, down from 39 in 2010.
- Kansas children without health insurance went from 8 percent in 2010, to 4 percent.
While the KIDS COUNT Data book illustrates that Kansas has made great strides for children, the Annie E. Casey Foundation notes that communities of color are not achieving the same outcomes of well-being as other communities. Under the leadership of Governor Colyer, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) already has plans in place to address these concerns—including implementing a cultural awareness training for child welfare staff. Additionally, in April, DCF sponsored The Governor’s Forum for the Well-being of Children and Families: Engaging the urban core church in child welfare. This forum allowed Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel to address the disproportionately of African American children in the Kansas foster care system. DCF is continuing to engage urban communities around ways we can effectively partner together to support at risk families.
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. Additionally, DCF partners with many community-based agencies that support at-risk families.
“We are also extremely proud of our work in our Economic and Employment Services Programs and Vocational Rehabilitation programs. Because of these efforts, thousands of Kansans who otherwise would be on public assistance are gainfully employed and living self-sustaining, fulfilling lives,” said Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) collaborates with 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.
“We are pleased to see efforts to improve the health and well-being of Kansas children are working,” said KDHE Secretary Jeff Andersen. “KDHE offers a wide range of programs and services to promote healthy living among all age groups. And we continue to see Kansas staying ahead of national trends with regard to positive health outcomes.”
If you would like to read the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book, visit http://www.aecf.org/.