Archive for Monday, June 24, 2013

Economic well-being of children in Kansas getting worse, according to new study

June 24, 2013


— The economic well-being of children in Kansas is getting worse, according to data released Monday.

The percentage of children living in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, and teens who are not in school and aren't working have all increased from 2005 to 2011, according to the 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book, released by the Annie Casey Foundation.

Kansas ranked 16th among states in overall child well-being in categories covering health, economics, education and family and community.

That is the same rank Kansas had last year, but Shannon Cotsoradis, president and chief executive officer of Kansas Action for Kids, said drilling down into the statistics shows some disturbing trends, especially in the area of economic security.

From 2005 to 2011, the number of children living in poverty has increased from 15 percent to 19 percent.

And the number of children living in areas of concentrated poverty has increased from 2 percent to 7 percent, which is a significantly higher increase than the national rate.

"It's a pretty bleak picture. One in five Kansas kids is living in poverty," Cotsoradis said. They will less likely have adequate nutrition, access to health care and a high quality of early childhood learning, she said.

"The deck is really stacked against them from Day 1," she said.

Cotsoradis said the statistics cover one year of Gov. Sam Brownback's administration — 2011 — and the trends show his policies aren't working.

“The data tell us that Kansas is moving in the wrong direction, despite the governor’s stated commitment to reducing childhood poverty in his ‘Roadmap for Kansas,’ ” she said.

But officials in Brownback's administration said the governor has made reducing childhood poverty a top priority.

"Childhood poverty, as we know, is a major concern to all of us, and certainly to the governor," said Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore.

Gilmore chairs Brownback's task force on reducing childhood poverty, which met Monday to work on recommendations to send to the governor.

In a review of information provided to the task force, DCF Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs Michelle Schroeder said education, full-time work, and not having children out of wedlock were three keys to avoiding poverty.

Gilmore added, "We are trying to create people and families with inner strength and not dependency."


chootspa 4 years, 5 months ago

Don't worry. Tax cuts for the rich and reduction in services for the poor will turn that problem around right away. If not, we'll be sure to decrease school funding until it does.

Bob Forer 4 years, 5 months ago

We have our Dear Leader Brownback to thank.

bevy 4 years, 5 months ago

Or blame the recession, which probably more of a factor than anything else. That said, I don't hold out hopes that our current gov's gutting of education funding and elimination of tax credits for poor and working-class families will make it any better in the years to come.

shadowlady 4 years, 5 months ago

Well it might help some, if these judges would start making the dead beat dads pay their child support. I know of one dad that doesn't pay his child support, and every so often the court makes him come to court, just for him to say "oh I don't have the money", the judge says ok I'll give you a couple more months. Those months pass and the same thing happens, time and time again, and the judge keeps letting him off. this last time he went in and told the judge that he just had another baby, (by the way he is now a father of ten kids) and I think it is pretty bad when a man uses's having more kids to keep from paying child support, and looks just as bad for the judge for letting him get away with it, cause it's like if you can't afford to pay child support for thr first two kids he has, then why is he having more kids if he doesn't pay child sup[port for those kids. IF by chance they threaten him with jail time he might come up with a couple of hundred dollars, out of owing 2500.00 back child support.

I had heard one time they were going to crack down on these dead beat dads and start putting them in jail but guess that has went by the way side. On top of that when income tax time, the kids only get part of that, and then to top it off, the dead beat dad's wife won't sign off on it, so there is more wait time. So the kids go around in holes in their shoes, and holes in the clothes, not mentioning socks and underwear.

The Mother of those kids struggle's, she doesn't run around or go out on the town, she works and when not working she's home with her kids. She's a good Mom. She does without, so her kids can have, but times are tough and no matter how much she does without, there is just not enough money to go around.

Bob Forer 4 years, 5 months ago

The mother had no busy bring children into this world that she couldn't support. Both parents are to blame, not just the father.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago


So, every person who chooses to have kids should be sure they can support them financially on their own, without any help from the other parent?

I'm pretty sure most people in serious relationships don't think like that - they think about whether or not they can support their kids together.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 4 months ago


The problem is that many parents-to-be don't think the whole thing through at all. Then, when problems arise, and they will, they look to government to solve the problems they didn't think through to begin with.

chootspa 4 years, 4 months ago

Get back to me on that whole "not thinking things through" once the state stops trying to cut back on the availability of birth control and abortions.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 4 months ago

I agree that it's poor public policy for the state to intervene when it comes to issues of birth control and abortions, except in the rarest of cases. However, I think it's equally poor public policy for the state to intervene on behalf of people making those decisions, except in the rarest of cases. The state that provides contraception is the state that can deny contraception. The state that provides abortions is the state that can deny abortions.

I'd prefer people making those choices simply left me out of the decision making process. However, once you slide your hand into my billfold to finance your decisions, then you've invited me into the discussion. (Except in the rarest of instances). If you really believe it's "your choice" and "only your choice", make it without my input and without my money.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

Not responsive to my point, and the previous post.

Do you agree that all people who choose to be parents in a couple should be able to support their child/children independently without any help from the other parent?

weeslicket 4 years, 4 months ago

sychopant stated that "both parents are to blame". while i would have phrased it as "both parents are responsible", i did not read his statement as suggesting that a parent should independently support a child/children. he said: both parents.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

He said the mother had no business bringing children into the world that she couldn't support.

And, she's working to support her kids, while the father isn't paying child support. Sounds like an unjust criticism of this mother to me.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 4 months ago

Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. In some communities, 70% of children are born into homes run by a single parent. So I would say yes, it's the responsibility of both parents to anticipate future events, where your partner isn't quite the person you thought he/she was while you were in the heat of passion, making that baby. Heck, you need to think about what would happen if your partner died suddenly. Yes, your whole thinking process needs to change when you become a parent, as opposed to that young, single person we all were once upon a time.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

I have a harder time than you criticizing people who don't plan for their partner to abandon them and their family. It's hard enough to raise a child on two incomes these days, let alone one.

In this case, the mother is working and the father isn't paying child support - criticizing her rather than him seems way off to me, and even criticizing them both equally seems off. She's doing her part, and he's not.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 4 months ago

I don't know enough about this particular situation to speak about it with any confidence. There is always two sides to each situation and all we've heard is one. My comments are very general in nature.

But let me give you an example. No parent anticipates that their child will get ill. However, every parent has a duty to have their child checked out by a doctor and dentist on a regular basis. Every good parent does that and bad parents don't. It really is that simple.

There are things you can reasonably plan for and others that you cannot. Planning for become the sole provider, given the numbers I mentioned above, seems reasonable. Planning just in case a meteor falls on your head is not. It's an unfortunate truth, but a truth nonetheless, that the reason society is being asked to assume so many of the responsibilities traditionally being the parents', is because these people didn't make appropriate plans.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

Sure - what's the reasonable explanation for a father who doesn't pay child support?

Your example is terrible - kids get sick all the time. If you have kids and think they won't get sick, then you don't know enough about children. It's not at all analogous to this sort of thing. People don't plan to be abandoned, any more than they plan their divorce when getting married. It's just not reasonable.

Your idea would essentially mean that anybody who doesn't make middle class wages wouldn't have children. How much do you think it costs for a single person to raise a child?

I think a more meaningful part of that outcome is that dads don't pay child support.

Lisa Medsker 4 years, 4 months ago

So, "Get married, but plan to get divorced or abandoned". Got it.

weeslicket 4 years, 4 months ago

yes. i understand your reading of the post this way. but that is not what i take away from it. i think responsibility goes all around, all the time. both parents.

jafs 4 years, 4 months ago

Of course both parents should be responsible.

But, it's absurd to claim that somebody shouldn't have kids if they can't support them on one income, just in case the other parent abandons them, and is a deadbeat.

If people plan reasonably about how to care for "their" children, thinking about things like budgets, schooling, etc. I find that to be responsible. Nobody has kids thinking that the other parent will disappear and refuse to support kids they've helped to create, any more than anybody plans their divorce when getting married.

What's this mom doing wrong, in your view?

weeslicket 4 years, 4 months ago

mom's being mom. i don't have a disagreement with you on this. and i always insist on using condoms.

Lisa Medsker 4 years, 4 months ago

So let me get this straight... Couple gets married, "Man" supports household, "Woman has menial "mad-money" job. Couple gets pregnant. Couple has baby, doing fine. "Man" finds a firmer pair to chase, and leaves family, and "Mom" now has to realize that she didn't "think things through" with her amazing psychic abilities before she married "Man"?

Glenn Reed 4 years, 5 months ago

Interesting anecdote. Kind of insulting, in a way, but interesting nonetheless.

A few points I'd like to have cleared up, though....

"I know of one dad that doesn't pay his child support, and every so often the court makes him come to court, just for him to say "oh I don't have the money", the judge says ok I'll give you a couple more months."

---In the state of Kansas, and honestly I imagine most jurisdictions in the US, child support is taking from wage garnishments. Meaning, if the guy in your story had a job, he'd be paying. Does this guy work anywhere? If he DID work, would that satisfy the "dead-beat-dad" status?

"I had heard one time they were going to crack down on these dead beat dads and start putting them in jail but guess that has went by the way side."

--There's a good reason this went by the way-side (it hasn't, actually, men do get arrested for failing to pay child support). It's very difficult to make money from jail, and it costs a lot of money to put people in jail. Do you really, honestly think that putting someone in jail is a valid solution to the problem of making them honor a debt?

A question I'd have for you beyond that is what practical role does the guy play in the child's lives? Do they know him? If they don't, why not? Is he actually opposed to having some kind of visitation with the kids, or is the good mom doing what she can to keep him absent?

You have one story about a dead-beat dad, I have a dozen about good men who never get to see their children. Shadow, family law sucks. There's good people who are screwed over every day because some bad person doesn't care about the effect actions will have on the children.

There's issues, lots of issues, with family law and how that law is executed. Aside from some isolated scenarios, fixing those regulations will have no effect on the issue of child poverty.

shadowlady 4 years, 4 months ago

Glenn Reed-----Sorry didn't get back on here yesterday at all, was to busy, so maybe, you will look back in the archives for my answer. Yes I agree there are some good dadsout there and I admire those Dads that do think and care for their children and help with the support, but there are those that just don't care about their kids. This particular Dad, works when he wants too, or keeps it very secret to where he works, in any case, the Mother never knows where he is working, and doesn't know how to find out, and evidently "child enforcement is not trying to find out where he works, and if they did, he would quit his job so his wages wouldn't be garnished. and I wouldn't be surprised if the State has paid for the last 8 kids he has had. You would be surprised what these Dads do to keep from paying child support.

This Dad has never been arrested, they have just threatened him and if they would ever follow through with putting him in jail, I'm quite sure after a couple of times in jail, would cure him of non payment. Sometimes a good swift kick in the rear end will do the trick.

Oh yes the kids know there Dad very well, and hate going to his house. He takes off and leaves the kids with their step mom to look after, and doesn't spend quality time with them, or they are left to take care of their brothers and sisters, or the step mother puts them to work cleaning their house up. And yes their mom lets the Dad have them when he wants, unless they are sick.

I do appreciate your in put and what you had to say, and you were not rude and at the same time you brought certain credible thoughts out. thank you for your time.

jhawk1998 4 years, 5 months ago

Poverty is not a determinant of health and/or safety. Just because a child lives "in poverty" whatever that means does not mean that he/she is unsafe or unfed. This comes doubly for living in an area of concentrated poverty. We are focusing on the wrong aspects of health, care, safety and nutrition.

chootspa 4 years, 5 months ago

How's life in that fantasy bubble? Sure. Just because someone lives in poverty (which is a federally defined term that you could google for yourself before you opine on the subject), doesn't mean that he/she is unsafe or unfed. It just rapidly increases the chances that the child is unsafe or underfed. Among other things.

question4u 4 years, 4 months ago

"Poverty is not a determinant of health and/or safety."

Um...right...poverty isn't necessarily bad, so we don't need to worry about it. That's good solid logic that will make any problem go away.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

"But officials in Brownback's administration said the governor has made reducing childhood poverty a top priority."

How? We need more than rhetoric! Talks cheap.... RESULTS are the true decider...... not years of repeating the same words.

chootspa 4 years, 5 months ago

He's hoping that the poor and unemployed will just leave the state and find one that actually puts effort into creating jobs so he can pretend that his policies made any difference at all.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 5 months ago

Brownback is a buffoon. (I sure like to say that)

That said, the study is for the years 2005-11. Brownback assumed office in Jan., 2011. If someone is really intent on blaming the governor for the problems listed in this study, then the governor during those years needs to be the target of such blame.

James Nelson 4 years, 5 months ago

My mother taught me at an early age that 'actions speak louder than words.' It has never made any difference what this governor has said about concern for the young and the state's less fortunate. Its what he does that tells the story and shows where he really stands. He has demonstrated time and time again that his only concerns are for the wealthy, whether that means giving them tax breaks the rest of us do not receive or giving the wealthy contributors to his political campaigns undeserved and lucrative state contracts. And being a Kansan means nothing to Governor Brownback as out-of-staters have faired very well getting Kansas state contracts.

So, learn to not be impressed when Sam Brownback states his concerns for the state's poor children. Just wait a while and see their plight worsen and then say "But Governor, I thought you said earlier............." Dishonest people do not deserve to be elected to positions of leadership. Lets all get together and kick his butt off the stage.

question4u 4 years, 4 months ago

Um...economic conditions have improved since 2008. Whether Obama has anything to do with that or not might be debatable, but why would you blame anyone for improvement in the economy?

chootspa 4 years, 4 months ago

"In the Pennsylvania coal fields, three or four families crowded together in one-room shacks and lived on wild weeds. In Arkansas, families were found inhabiting caves. In Oakland, California, whole families lived in sewer pipes."

Yeah - that's some pleasant alternatives right there.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 4 months ago

"How did our grandparents, great grandparents and parents survive poverty, the depression and still manage to save money, educate their children and themselves?"

They didn't. Both of my parents grew up during the Depression and neither graduated from high school. My father didn't go beyond the 8th grade. My mother told me horror stories of being eight years old and going days with nothing to eat but oatmeal. She despised it for the rest of her life and as an adult refused to eat it. I was the first person in my immediate family to get a college degree.
Many of the social policies that you apparently have a problem with came out of the Depression. I suggest you go do a little historical research.

chootspa 4 years, 4 months ago

It's amazing how quickly people forget just how bad the Depression was. There was some Fox news guy who recently declared that nobody starved to death in the Depression. Not true. Not true at all.

I, for one, did not sign up for this "doomed to repeat it" gig.

Glenn Reed 4 years, 4 months ago

"It started with politician 'x' and therefore politician 'y' is evil." will fix nothing.

We should be asking if the government is doing something to address the issue, and if those actions will be effective solutions.

Honestly, when discussing social issues, it's very near impossible to leave out public education. A higher level of education generally translates to lower poverty rates, right? So, a longer-term solution would be providing as many people as possible the highest-quality education possible.

Based upon the actions of our current state legislature and governor, I have the come to the conclusion that public education simply is not a priority for our current representatives.

There's solutions to the more immediate concerns of malnutrition, insufficient medicine, job insecurity, and housing insecurity. Really, there are...

The problem with those is that even thinking of them brings psychotic rants about taking care of children being some evil thing to do. Usually from elected officials that people continue to vote for.

I feel that an uptick in child poverty is a big problem. I don't feel that our current state government is really all that concerned with approaching the issue.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 4 months ago

Per capita GDP for 2005: $41,800

Per capita GDP for 2011 (est) $49,100

Correction for inflation:
What cost $41,800 in 2005 would cost $47,605.71 in 2011.

That was not the result I expected, and apparently is a demonstration that the economy here in Kansas is declining compared with the rest of the United States, as this article suggests. But, there are those who claim that the published numbers are "cooked" to make it appear as though the economy is better than it really is. And, I think that anyone that receives a COLA would certainly agree.

chicago95 4 years, 4 months ago

This is a willful misreading of the data. I have no sympathy for Governor Brownback's policies, which are unlikely to amelieorate (let alone reverse) this trend. However, " [Ms.] Cotsoradis said the statistics cover one year of Gov. Sam Brownback's administration — 2011." The data cover the years 2005-2011. Let's own up to the damage done on our own watch.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 4 months ago

"willful misreading"?
The numbers are cut, dried, and available to all on the internet. And, I made it very clear that the data may not reflect reality when I mentioned that there are those who claim that the data is "cooked".

So, I cannot imagine what you mean by "willful misreading of the data."

chicago95 4 years, 4 months ago

My comment was not about your comment at all. (I'm not sure that I even saw yours before I posted mine.) I was referring to those pinning the blame primarily on the current administration.

chicago95 4 years, 4 months ago

Note to Paragraph indentation inside comments is irregular and is sometimes misleading. Though the avatars are correctly intented, the text sometimes lines up with the left margin of the username and at other times does not.

verity 4 years, 4 months ago

I tried to point that out some time ago, but the problem was denied---and blamed on my computer.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 4 months ago

I fully believe this is the result of the major crash of '08 and not so much Brownback's policies as it is the lingering effect of Bush's policies. It's not a state problem but a national one. Many states (including Kansas) didn't even change rank but actual percentages of children in need and poverty went up across the board. And it's not getting better. The current Congressional fight over the Farm Bill and the sheer determination of the Congressional GOP to cut the SNAP program is a case in point.
That said, Brownback's policies are on the road to exacerbate the problem and make it far worse than it needs to be. At the very least, it's certainly not going to get better.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 4 months ago

The different states and commonwealths produce different products and services, and as the economy shifts, that is, as the demand for their different products and services changes, their relative economic ranking will change. And of course, the tax policies of the 50 states and commonwealths are all different, and that will also make a major difference in the economic well being of our youngest citizens. I didn't address that in my first posting because I thought it was obvious.

And about our economic problems getting better, that could certainly happen with new administrations at the state and federal level, if the voters choose wisely.

Catalano 4 years, 4 months ago

"The current Congressional fight over the Farm Bill and the sheer determination of the Congressional GOP to cut the SNAP program is a case in point."

Plus the doubling of the student loan interest rate (with bi-partisan support!).

chootspa 4 years, 4 months ago

Before the GI Bill, most of them didn't get a college education.

deec 4 years, 4 months ago

Federal student loans started in 1958. The program expanded in 1965. I'm over 50 and the only way I could afford college was with student loans and work-study. But then my dad was one of those evil government workers. He served 20 years in the military. Mom was a homemaker.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 4 months ago

Me too, in fact I worked in the library when it was in Spooner Hall. Maybe Chad could do some research and turn up some pictures to compare KU in 1965 to today.

verity 4 years, 4 months ago

A college education was a whole lot less expensive when I attended in the late sixties. One could still work their way through and come out with no debts even without scholarships.

verity 4 years, 4 months ago

My reply was to oneeye_wilbur, not deec.

LJW, there is a problem with indents.

chootspa 4 years, 4 months ago

That was back in the day when we had the silly notion that public universities should be publicly funded.

nocrybabies 4 years, 4 months ago

Could it be because there is a huge influx of children who arrive as part of already destitute families?

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 4 months ago

Give it time. With the determination of the Brownback administration and Kansas legislature to deny women contrception, track every single conception and make sure it gets born (with or without food support and prenatal care), that particular problem is going to get a whole lot worse.

Kat Christian 4 years, 4 months ago

If I havent' said it a hundred times I'll say it one-hundred and one more time. All the issues, policies, etc they develop is only a bandaid on the problems of poverty. The Director stated that one of the problems is "having children out of wedlock". Well then START with kids when they are in high school with sex education, parenting classes and budgeting 101 leading into the first year of college. These kids go out into the world not even knowing how to write a check much less budget a checkbook. They have no clue the responsibility involved in raising or caring for another small human being. They may know what a condom is or birth control pills but do they actually know and understand what is happening to their bodies whey they are sexual arroused and how to overcome those urges and think productively instead of primal? They are not taught that because educators and parents are too afraid, embarrassed or unknowledgable to explain it to these kids. Until we get down to the basics of these sort of issues the problem will persists. No amount of welfare, condoms, birth controls, wick programs is going to cure this ignorance but basic education.

verity 4 years, 4 months ago

Didn't see your post before I sent mine off---we're saying basically the same thing.

verity 4 years, 4 months ago

Parents may be shiftless, unprepared, not thinking ahead and so forth, but it is the children who, as far as I can see, are innocent and who suffer. And with lack of education, health care and jobs, the poverty often becomes generational.

So, ragging on the parents is not going to solve the problem, even when they deserve to be ragged on. Maybe we should start teaching in pre-school and Head Start how to think critically and how to handle money. Maybe high school (or even junior high) is the time to educate about the responsibility that having a child is, that it's hard work, both financially and emotionally---and how not to accidentally have one. That marriage is something not to be lightly entered into and takes hard work. Maybe we should make it easier, not harder to get a desired education and job training. Maybe high schools and colleges should demand more responsibility from students than they do now.

Instead, we make the children, who are not responsible for their plight, suffer---and in doing so, perhaps sentence them to repeating the same mistakes their parents made.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 4 months ago

I once heard someway say that things are backwards; that we should make a divorce available in three days and make people wait sixty days to get married.

verity 4 years, 4 months ago

I've often thought that people should have to have a license to have children---but of course that will never work unless we want to be China.

gatekeeper 4 years, 4 months ago

I so agree!!!! I think mandatory birth control until you can prove you are mentally and financially able to support a child.

I often hear people say that if you're on state assistance you shouldn't be able to have kids. I also agree with that, but think they should require birth control (they can give the 3 month shot) and you don't get assistance if you don't use birth control. I think this should go for guys too. They have a BC shot for guys, but it's not easily available because it's always left up to the woman.

You'd also have a lot less people having kids if they were forced to wait. Once I was financially and mentally ready, I realized I liked like without kids. I know a lot of people that of course love their kids, but if they could do it over again wouldn't have had as many or any at all.

chootspa 4 years, 4 months ago

Ah, eugenics. We tried that in this country, once. It turns out it was a really stupid and inhumane idea.

I'll tell you what does lower the birth rate: free access to birth control. Plenty of people will take you up on the offer. Forcing it upon people is the work of despots and monsters.

Lisa Medsker 4 years, 4 months ago

YES! And the Marriage License should have the $6,000 price tag, while the divorce has the $25 fee! (Or whatever the fee is for a Marriage License is, now...)

chootspa 4 years, 4 months ago

You do realize that the working class are the ones who receive welfare benefits, right? I'm assuming the class argument you were really trying to go for is that the benefits are paid for by the middle class. That's true, especially now that the ultra rich in Kansas can get away with paying nothing at all in state income taxes.

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