Earlier today, Kentucky Youth Advocates released their 20th annual “Kids Count” County Data Book. This year, the report, which measures and tracks the socioeconomic well-being of children across Kentucky’s 120 counties, factors in the impact of the economic recession. As you can probably imagine, the results aren’t pretty.
Here’s a taste from a press release:
Eight of the book’s ten indicators measuring children’s receipt of work supports showed an increase in participation since 2000, including the following:
- Between 2000 and 2009 the number of children receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefits increased by 56 percent (over 100,000 children).
- Participation in the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) increased by 24 percent (over 20,000 children) between 2000 and 2009.
- The percent of children attending public schools eligible for free or reduced-price meals increased from 48 percent to 52 percent between the 1999-2000 and 2009-2010 school years.
- In 2009, an average of 60,778 children were enrolled in the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) each month, up 35 percent from 2000.
- Medicaid enrollment grew by 47 percent (over 123,000 children) from 2000 to 2009.
- The number of children receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits grew by 31 percent (over 6,900 children) between December 2000 and December 2008.
Despite these increases in receipt of benefits, many children and families in Kentucky are still missing out on work supports they are eligible for due to barriers such as lack of information and a confusing and laborious application process. For instance, estimates suggest that between 15 and 25 percent of Kentuckians eligible for the EITC do not claim it when they file their taxes. And while Kentucky’s participation in SNAP is high, a 2009 study of food bank users found that almost half do not receive SNAP. In addition, only 58 percent of eligible children participated in WIC in 2008.
“Many families in Kentucky may be eligible for work supports for the first time in their lives due to the recession,” said (Terry Brooks, executive director for Kentucky Youth Advocates). “By improving and expanding our outreach efforts we not only ensure that families can make ends meet, we are helping them access federal resources for which they are already eligible. Those resources, that would otherwise go unused, reduce the financial burden on the state, local communities, and businesses and non-profits.”
The book also lists a few positive trends for the state, not the the least of which is a lower infant mortality rate (from 9.8 per 1,000 first-year infants to 6.7) and a child death rate (per 100,000 kids) that dropped from 32 to 22.
But any good news beyond that is kind of scarce. As LEO Weekly first reported earlier this year, the rise in the number of homeless children enrolled in Jefferson County Public Schools is directly attributable to the number of unemployed wrought by the collapse of the U.S. housing market, the net effect being the large scale screwing of poor kids, whom we treat like dirt, and the data collected by Kentucky Youth Advocates only confirms the worst.
According to the book, an estimated 47 percent of renter households have incomes in 2010 that are too low to adequately afford the cost of rent and utilities for a 2-bedroom apartment.Furthermore, it really sucks to be anything other than white in Obama’s America, especially if you’re unemployed or underemployed:
Unequal economic opportunities among races become evident in comparing poverty rates across racial groups. Nationally in 2008, poverty rates were lowest among Asian and Pacific Islander and non-Hispanic White children (12 percent and 11 percent, respectively). Among groups that have experienced systemic lack of access to jobs and other economic opportunities, child poverty rates were higher at 28 percent for Hispanic or Latino children, 31 percent for American Indian children, and 34 percent for Black or African-American children.8 Poverty rates are even greater in Kentucky for many populations, where 20 percent of non-Hispanic White children, 44 percent of Black or African-American children, and 41 percent of Hispanic or Latino children lived in poverty in 2008.
Which is why this fuck compares himself to MLK, right? Right?
Indeed, the best thing about the book is its matter-of-fact tone when describing (with sourced, empirically sound footnotes!) the benefits that social services programs bring to individuals and the communities in which they live, thereby refuting the trickle down nonsense that’s still popular on television and in newspapers via a nonpartisan, issue-centric fashion.
In fact, you should just go read the whole Kids Count book here, or just be thankful we’re not Indiana. Your pick. Also: Louisville’s mayoral candidates will attempt to wax knowledgeable/human on the subject Sept. 9, 10 a.m. at Metro United Way’s 334 East Broadway HQ.