The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child advocacy group, released its annual Kids Count report on Tuesday, and Kansas ranked 15th overall and Missouri 29th. The report assesses overall child well-being based on four broad categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.
Both Kansas and Missouri saw their indicators for education and health improve while their indicators for economic well-being and family and community mostly worsened.
Missouri slipped two places from last year and three from 2012. While Kansas went up one spot from last year, the numbers aren’t all that eye-popping in terms of Kansas kids’ economic well-being.
“Poor children will be especially vulnerable in this time of diminishing state revenues,” says Shannon Cotsoradis, president and CEO of the advocacy group Kansas Action for Children.
“Public investments matter if we’re serious about lifting children out of poverty. Changing the trajectory for poor children is about making sure they have access to adequate food, shelter, health care and early learning opportunities.”
Cotsoradis says the long-term outcome for poor children will depend on their access to post-secondary education, including vocational, technical, and higher education. She worries about how these programs will be affected by the state’s looming budget shortfall.
The annual Kids Count report – this one was the 25th – rated Massachusetts as the top state for overall child well-being, followed by Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire and Minnesota. The worst state was Mississippi, followed by New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana and Arizona.
Nationwide, the report says children continued to progress in the areas of education and health, but economic progress, even after the end of the recession, lagged. A mixed picture emerged for family and community. While the teen birth rate hit a historic low, the percentages of children living in single-parent families and high-poverty areas increased.
Among the report’s Missouri findings:
- 310,000 children, or 23 percent, lived in poverty compared with 19 percent in 2005
- 433,000, or 31 percent, had parents without secure employment
- 469,000, or 35 percent, lived in single-parent families, compared with 32 percent in 2005
- There were 32 teen births per 1,000, or a total of 6,317 births, an improvement over the 42 teen births per 1,000 recorded in 2005
- 98,000, or 7 percent, had no health insurance, unchanged since 2008
- 65 percent of fourth graders were not proficient in reading, slightly improved from 67 percent in 2013
- 67 percent of eighth graders were not proficient in math, compared with 74 percent in 2013
Among the report’s Kansas findings:
- 135,000 children, or 19 percent, lived in poverty compared with 15 percent in 2005
- 176,000, or 24 percent, had parents without secure employment
- 215,000, or 31 percent, lived in single-parent families, compared with 27 percent in 2005
- There were 34 teen births per 1,000, or a total of 3,306 births,, an improvement over the 41 teen births per 1,000 recorded in 2005
- 48,000, or 7 percent, had no health insurance, an improvement over 8 percent in 2008
- 62 percent of fourth graders were not proficient in reading, better than the 68 percent in 2005
- 60 percent of eighth graders were not proficient in math, better than the 66 percent in 2005