RELEASE: Kansas 2016 KIDS COUNT report reveals critical importance of early investments

TOPEKA —┬áSince 1992, Kansas Action for Children has followed the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual summer release of a national KIDS COUNT Databook with a statewide report analyzing child trends at the Kansas county level each fall. The 2016 Kansas KIDS COUNT report reveals a mixed bag, with some positive improvements in outcomes as well as some immediate policy opportunities that could reap great gains and prevent further backsliding for Kansas children and their families.

“Over and over, data demonstrates what we’re capable of as a state when we put our minds to it, and this year’s release is no exception. Improvements in key health indicators reflect concentrated work across the state by stakeholders to tackle previously troubling trends,” said KAC President and CEO Annie McKay. “If we would devote the same time and attention after the first year of life we could see the same kind of results in the other areas reflected in the annual release.”

Kansas again made modest gains in some health care indicators and health care analysts say the ACA has had a “welcome mat effect.” Parents who turn to the health care exchange for coverage are much more likely to opt for coverage for their children at the same time.

“Thanks to initiatives like the Kansas Infant Mortality Review Program (FIMR) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) we saw key improvements. At the same time Kansas has an immediate policy opportunity that would have even greater gains for Kansas kids,” said McKay. “We could lead the nation in health care coverage for little kids, but it starts by extending coverage to their parents through expanding access to KanCare.”

Additionally:

  • More pregnant women are receiving prenatal care – 82.96 percent (up .64 percent over the last five years). On a related note, the percentage of low-birth weight babies declined to 7.06 percent.
  • CHIP enrollment increased to 57,835 Kansas children, up 2,366 since 2011.
  • The infant mortality rate fell to 5.88 per every 1,000 live births.

Overall, positive trends within this year’s report demonstrate the benefits of maintaining commitment to a long-term vision for Kansas children and families. Where Kansas lags (or fails to keep pace with other states) show the long-term consequences for shortchanging investments in our state’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

Kansas Action for Children’s annual Kansas KIDS COUNT report measures county-by-county how kids are doing across more than 20 indicators of health, education and economic success. KIDS COUNT data is available for every Kansas county. To download your county’s fact sheet or the statewide fact sheet, visit kac.org/kidscount.

To see how Kansas as a whole compares to other states, visit the online KIDS COUNT Data Center: datacenter.kidscount.org/ks.

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