By Nick Gosnell
June 13, 2017
The 2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book was released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains – health, education, economic well-being, and family and community – that represent what children need most to thrive.
“When I look at these numbers, particularly the number of young children not in school, 4th graders not proficient in reading, 8th graders not proficient in math, what I feel very hopeful about is that the 2017 legislative session really did a number of great things to chip away at that,” said Annie McKay with Kansas Action for Children. “We look at our K-12 school funding formula that put more money toward all-day kindergarten as well as four-year-old at-risk programs, as well as the Legislature’s commitment to not selling off the Children’s Initiative Fund and making sure those resources go to supporting critical early education programs around the state.”
Kansas ranks 15th in this year’s survey.
“Kansas rose a couple of spots in this year’s national ranking,” said McKay. “What we can see there is a reflection of investments paying off that have been made over the years. We’re also attentive to data points, because we know that this data set captures, over a period of time. In the last couple of years, policymakers have made some choices to dismantle the state’s safety net. We know the story of sweeps and cuts to programs.”
McKay believes the movement made in the past few weeks by the Legislature could result in even further improvement in numbers going forward.
“Metaphorically, it feels like we’re pulling the nose of the plane up,” said McKay. “We saw that when policymakers largely wouldn’t even consider securitizing or selling off the revenue stream that supports early childhood programs in all 105 Kansas counties. We saw it again when policymakers toward the end of the legislative session rejected the Governor’s proposal to sweep additional resources from an endowed fund meant to support these programs long-term.”
Learn more about the 2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book at datacenter.kidscount.org/KS.