The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Kansas 15th overall for child well-being. While that’s one spot higher than last year in the overall state rankings, Bryan Thompson reports the numbers aren’t so good, in terms of the economic well-being of Kansas kids.
Shannon Cotsoradis, who heads the advocacy group Kansas Action for Children, says Kansas families are struggling, economically.
“In 2012 we have 19% of children living in poverty,” she says. "That’s unchanged from 2011, but the trend has increased significantly over time. Just a few years ago, we were at 15%.”
The Opportunity Project, or TOP Early Learning Centers, are making a significant impact on preschool education in Wichita. Philanthropist Barry Downing created the initiative in 2003. Its mission is to use education to lift children out of poverty. Graduates of TOP have elevated test scores, better social skills and are less likely to be absent from school. There are hundreds of children on TOP's waiting list.
An Education Steeped In Exploration
Cornelia Stevens is Executive Director of TOP Early Learning Centers.
A panel appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback is recommending several strategies for reducing childhood poverty, including strengthening marriages, improving educational opportunities and reforming welfare-to-work programs.
A task force appointed by the governor has wrapped up a series of meetings looking for ways to reduce childhood poverty in Kansas. They discussed three so-called "pathways out of poverty," which include ways to improve education, get more Kansans working and strengthen families.
The committee was told that in 2011 around 19 percent of Kansas kids lived in poverty, and they’re hoping that focusing on some key areas can reduce that.