More than 23 percent of Kansas children lived in poverty last year. That’s according to the new Kansas Kids Count report, released by the non-profit advocacy group Kansas Action for Children.
The group’s president, Shannon Cotsoradis, says that compares with about 18 percent five years ago.
“When you have almost one in every four kids growing up in poverty, and we know the long-term consequences of that, we really have to worry about the future of our state," she says.
Cotsoradis says with the number of children qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals, half the kids in Kansas are now in or near poverty. She says it’s time to reverse course on some recent policy changes that make life harder for poor families in Kansas.
Policy changes Cotsoradis cites as needing to be changed:
- Shortening lifetime benefits from 60 months to 48 months
- Changing work requirements, making it more difficult for families to access childcare assistance
- Eliminating outreach, making it more difficult for families to access food assistance
- Changing the way a family’s income is calculated to determine their eligibility
Cotsoradis says child poverty is now growing at a faster rate in Kansas than in the nation as a whole.