Today, new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey confirms that child poverty remains high in Kentucky. Because of larger sample sizes and different methodology, this data is stronger than the Current Population Survey supplemental data released on Tuesday. The American Community Survey data released today revealed that in 2013, 25.3 percent of Kentucky children lived in poverty, compared to 22.2 percent nationwide. This put Kentucky at 40th in the nation for child poverty out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
This is the second key report of the week around child poverty, and both paint a compelling portrait of Kentucky’s kids. Although today’s release shows the child poverty rate was lower than the estimate released on Tuesday, the message is the same. With one in every four Kentucky children living in poverty, we can’t let another year go by without implementing strategies to raise children out of poverty. Solutions such as a state Earned Income Tax Credit, helping families have access to financial services and tools so they can better manage and save money, and looking at innovative strategies like microenterprise could make a big difference in the lives of kids across Kentucky.
Today’s release also includes child poverty rates for Kentucky counties with populations of 65,000 and above. Overall, the state’s most urban counties had lower child poverty than the state as a whole.
|Percentage of Children Living Below the Poverty Level, 2013:|
(Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2013 Estimates)
In addition to child poverty rates, the data released today estimated 5.9 percent of Kentucky children were uninsured in 2013, reflecting an overall downward trend over the past four years. The uninsured rate has likely dropped even lower in 2014 due to the success of Kentucky’s health benefit exchange, kynect, which enrolled a significant number of Kentuckians during 2014.
Kentucky is now a national model for enrolling people in health coverage, and we should be proud of that. Efforts over the past few years to make it easier for parents to enroll their children in health coverage and the recent success of kynect will have a lasting impact on the health of our state. My question is – how can we take lessons learned from health and apply them to child poverty? We need to tackle child poverty with the same rigor that we have tackled health coverage. Poverty negatively impacts children’s ability to thrive and become successful adult citizens of the Commonwealth. We have a practical and ethical obligation to address this problem with multiple solutions that we know work.