Fresh evidence is in to remind us of the uncomfortable fact that too many children in Kentucky are growing up in poverty, putting them and our commonwealth at a serious disadvantage. According to new Census Bureau data from the American Community Survey released today, over 1 in 4 children in Kentucky live in families with incomes below $22,350 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses.
Other key findings show that children and families continue to suffer:
- Since the beginning of the recession, child poverty in Kentucky increased from 23.5 percent in 2008 to 27.4 percent in 2011
- Total poverty rose from 17.3 percent in 2008 to 19.1 percent in 2011, bringing the Commonwealth into 46th place compared to other states and the District of Columbia.
- Median household income in Kentucky fell to $41,141 in 2011 from $43,232 in 2008.
When will the core needs of children become a priority for our leaders in Frankfort? When will kids compete with business and coal and horses? For Kentucky to have a strong future, we must support our vulnerable children and families now – ensuring that parents are able to meet their children’s basic needs.
There are proven ways to lift families up and build a stronger middle class. We can do this by working to increase the ease of access to public benefits and to enact a state Earned Income Tax Credit. We can invest in strong public structures, like health care, education and job-training programs, and help families attain the stability and security that comes with good jobs and financial security.
According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being. If we fail to take steps to ensure that our children succeed, the growth and prosperity of Kentucky is threatened. It is in our commonwealth’s best interest to invest in children today to create a more secure tomorrow—for all.
We simply cannot afford to continue to ignore poverty and its pervasive hold on this state.