New economic well-being data has been posted to the KIDS COUNT Data Center, including the average monthly number of children receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly called food stamps), assistance from the Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (KTAP) , and those ages 0 – 5 served by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). These new data reflect the lingering effects of the recession through 2011.

The average monthly number of children in Kentucky receiving SNAP benefits has steadily increased since the recession hit Kentucky in 2008. From 2007 to 2011, the number of children in SNAP grew by 24 percent. As the economy recovers and families begin to recover, spending on SNAP should begin to decrease. Safety net programs like SNAP have been effective at keeping many families out of poverty – an estimated 4.4 million people were kept out of poverty by SNAP in 2010.

From 2007 to 2011, the number of young children in WIC only grew by 6 percent and the number of children receiving KTAP decreased by half a percent. Unlike SNAP, WIC participants are not automatically entitled to benefits if they qualify.  If there is not enough money allocated for WIC, eligible applicants are placed on a waiting list. Fortunately, WIC has been sufficiently funded in the past, and is recognized as one of the most effective social programs.

KTAP (Kentucky’s version of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – TANF), on the other hand, has not kept up with the needs of families during the recession. TANF is a block grant, which means states receive a set amount of money that does not take into account the number of families that actually need assistance. So like WIC and unlike SNAP, TANF funding does not increase when need rises during difficult times, like the recent recession. Because of this flawed structure, KTAP has not responded as well to the needs of struggling Kentuckians, compared to SNAP.

KIDS COUNT Data Center

On the KIDS COUNT Data Center you can now access the latest available data for the above-mentioned indicators, as well as new data on the average monthly number of children enrolled in the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) and Medicaid. Also, an new indicator was recently added to the KIDS COUNT Data Center. You can now find state and county-level data from 2003 to 2011 on youth placed in secure juvenile detention centers for status offenses (i.e. running away from home or skipping school) on the Data Center.

The KIDS COUNT Data Center provides information across states and for Kentucky counties and school districts on many measures of child well-being, including: economic well-being, education, health, and safety. Users can easily rank, map, graph trends over time, and add customized information to their own websites. Users can also view and share data quickly and easily anytime and anywhere with the enhanced mobile site for smart phones.

Looking for more information? Research and recommendations for improving outcomes for the Kentucky KIDS COUNT indicators can be found in the annual Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Books here.