Lewis Diuguid

July 22, 2014

Kids Count report shows health coverage improvements, but poverty remains a concern

The 25th annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows a mixed bag of conditions in the United States for children.

The country can celebrate that more kids have access to health insurance coverage today, but poverty has a stronger grip on children and families.

That’s according to the 25th annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. On health insurance coverage, fewer than 9 percent of children were uninsured in 2012 compared with 13 percent in 1990.

President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act, no doubt deserves a lot of credit.

But the child poverty rate, which had dropped from 18 to 16 percent from 1990 to 2000, hit 22 percent in 2010 and hasn’t budged since, the Kids Count report notes. Poverty in 2012 was defined as income below $23,283 for a family of two adults and two children.

Blame it on the Great Recession and the anemic jobs recovery. States were ranked according to 16 indicators across four areas — economic well-being, education, health and family and community. The top five states overall were Massachusetts, Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire and Minnesota. The bottom five states overall were Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi.

Kansas ranked 15th overall; Missouri was 29th.

In Kansas, child poverty rates increased from 15 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2012. It was worse in Missouri, rising from 19 percent in 2005 to 23 percent in 2012. Children in homes with parents lacking secure employment also worsened in the U.S. as well as Kansas and Missouri.

But improvements occurred in preschool attendance in the U.S. and Kansas and Missouri. The percentage of low birth weight babies also fell as did teen births. But the percentage of children living in single-parent families in the U.S. and Kansas and Missouri went up.

That’s a trend that needs to be reversed.

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