Archive for Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Report: More Kansas children in poverty from 2008 to 2013

July 22, 2015

— The percentage of Kansas children living in poverty increased between 2008 and 2013, although the state's ranking for children's overall well-being remained the same, according to the annual Kids Count report.

The report ranked the state 15th on overall child well-being, using data from 2013 that considered families' economic health, community and family structure and children's educational progress and health. The 2013 data was the most recent available.

The report found that 19 percent of Kansas children lived in poverty in 2013, compared with 15 percent in 2008, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. It also found 24 percent of Kansas children had a parent who didn't have full-time, year-round employment. Other data showed only 6 percent of teenagers weren't either in school or working.

Nationwide, about 22 percent of children lived in poverty and 31 percent lived in a household without a parent who had full-time, year-round employment. About 14 percent of children also lived in "concentrated" poverty areas, meaning 30 percent or more of the population in their census tract was in poverty, according to the report. In Kansas, 9 percent of children in areas of concentrated poverty.

Kansas ranked ninth in the country for economic well-being based on the percentage of children living in poverty; children whose parents don't have full-time, year-round employment; children in households that pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing; and teens who are neither in school nor working.

It is troubling that childhood poverty increased from 2008 and that more children are living in areas of concentrated poverty, said Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of Kansas Action for Children.

"This should be a time of growing prosperity for Kansas children and families, but instead we are mostly stagnant," she said. "Our state's unsustainable tax structure threw Kansas into a dangerous, perpetual budget crisis. As long as the Kansas budget is stuck in recession-era levels of investment, Kansas children will be stuck with a recession-era quality of life."

Theresa Freed, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department for Children and Families, said the report showed fewer Kansas children were living in poverty in 2013 than in 2012. The number decreased from 135,000 children in 2012 to 132,000 in 2013, though the percentage was about 19 percent in both years.

"The (poverty) 'worsened' notation on this year's kids count profile is compared to 2008," she said. "Kansas improved in 14 of the 16 indicators."

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