Today, Kansas has 50,000 more children than it did 10 years ago.
"That's a significant number," said Gary Brunk, executive director at Kansas Action for Children, an advocacy group that this week released an analysis of 2000 census data.
"The data show that in the long term, we are dealing with a population that's changing, and we need to begin planning for the needs that will accompany those changes," Brunk said.
According to the census data:
Â Roughly half the state's 712,993 children live in five of the state's 105 counties Â Sedgwick, Johnson, Wyandotte, Shawnee and Douglas.
Â In southwest Kansas, children account for more than 30 percent of the population in nine counties.
Â Between 1990 and 2000, the number of children in Douglas and Miami counties increased more than 20 percent. Johnson County led the state with a 28 percent increase. Graham and Ness counties each recorded 25 percent fewer children.
Â Statewide, the number of children between ages 15 and 17 increased 28 percent.
Â Eighteen and a half percent of the state's children are nonwhite.
"Our population is becoming much more diverse," Brunk said, "which raises all kinds of issues for schools when it comes to meeting language needs and addressing other cultural issues."
Brunk said copies of the report had been sent to legislators and state policy-makers. It's also available on Kansas Action for Children's Web site, www.kac.org.