Numbers released by the Census Bureau seem to show poverty among children is not being eased, in spite of a growing economy in Kansas.
“I was surprised that there wasn’t a lot of movement from last year,” said Emily Fetsch, Director of Policy and Research at Kansas Action for Children. “In previous years at both the national and the state level, we’ve been seeing a decline in childhood poverty. It looks like this year, again, both in Kansas and nationally, we’re seeing those numbers stall.”
The percentage of Kansas kids living in poverty was 14.8 percent in 2017, compared with 14.1 percent in 2016.
“We know from other research that particularly for kids of color, we’re not seeing a lot of movement in childhood poverty,” said Fetsch. “They’re not having the same gains as their white counterparts.”
This would seem to suggest that different policy priorities may be needed when the Legislature returns in January.
“It clearly shows that previous legislation like the HOPE Act is not doing what was intended,” said Fetsch. “It’s not addressing poverty and childhood poverty. It’s important to consider policies that work both for kids and families.”
Policies that advocate for affordable childcare and Medicaid expansion are just a couple of different directions the legislature could go to address the problem.