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Kids Count Data Good News for Kansas: Local Providers Say Poverty Not Solved

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PITTSBURG, KANSAS -

The Annie E. Casey kids count books gives Kansas a high rank when it comes to child well-being. 15th overall and 7th nationwide for economic conditions for kids.
The drop in the poverty rate nationally began in 2012 and continued in 2015 which is the data represented in this year’s kid count book. But those who work with children and those in need, say statistical improvements don’t mean problem solved.  

Two  and three year olds eat lunch at the Family Resource Center in Pittsburg. They also get breakfast and a snack.  A consistent  source of food for some who are truly in need.
Executive director Ann Elliot said, "We're fifty-four to fifty-eight percent free and reduced. It depends, year to year  on the students we have. We don’t  treat them any differently."

Food security  is just one part of the economic well-being  of a child according to kids count. This year’s book shows
Kansas has fewer kids in poverty, fewer kids whose parents lack secure employment and fewer living  in households with a high housing cost burden. That means thirty percent of their income before taxes is spent on rent and utilities leaving them less for food and clothes. It’s not clear if parents in Kansas now have better jobs or are finding help.
Elliot said, "We're all working together to provide for the families to make sure they have what they need. It’s difficult you know for families to make it. Some don’t like to ask for help. We're able to provide a lot  of services that don’t make people feel bad about taking those services."

While the  statistics may be looking better for poverty, a reality check at the Wesley house shows a different picture.
Executive director Marcee Binder said, "Having resources, yes, has helped a lot but I don’t think,  it does not seem, here in Crawford county with the amount of  clients we serve, that their burden of housing is getting better. I do think we have programming that walks with folks through their hard time, but I don’t think its necessarily easing the burden overall."
 
Binder says the charity can barely keep up with demand at its food pantry as numbers continue to rise this summer.
Still the statistics, even when showing improvement,  show community  need and are used to help get grants.
Elliot said, "I use it to apply for grants when we're looking for funding for materials or programs.  I have three  preschool classrooms that are free to parents."

Resource Center teacher Shane Shanks explained, "I think its our purpose to set a good foundation for them to grow up. "

Helping parents invest in their children to overcome poverty.    
There is also data on  kids health and  education on kids count. People  can check their state and even county  at the kids count site.

http://www.aecf.org/resources/2017-kids-count-data-book/

Here is a link.  

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