It should not be a surprise to regular readers of KY Kids in Focus that the recession continues to take a heavy toll on Kentucky children and their families. As previous posts have illustrated, participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program remains high, as does unemployment. A new report from First Focus, The Recession’s Ongoing Impact on America’s Children: Indicators of Children’s Economic Well-Being Through 2011, takes a comprehensive look at this and compares three key economic indicators of children’s well-being – the number of children living with an unemployed parent, the number who rely upon the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) for food, and the number who live in poverty.

The report observes that a parent’s unemployment and poverty have both immediate and long-lasting effects on a child’s development, including psychological stress and academic performance, and even increased incidences of abuse and neglect. Lasting consequences include diminished career aspirations and earnings as an adult.

The report also provides state-by-state breakdowns of the three key economic indicators of child well-being. Here is information for Kentucky:

  • 90,800 children in Kentucky have unemployed parents, that’s 1 in 10. This is higher than all of Kentucky’s surrounding states;
  • 31,000 Kentucky children lived with a parent unemployed six months or longer;
  • 222,000 additional Kentuckians relied upon SNAP for food in 2011, compared to 2007, bringing the total number receiving SNAP to 822,000 statewide; and
  • More than one in four Kentucky children lived in poverty in 2010.

While First Focus has encouraged federal policymakers to adopt an approach to reduce child poverty modeled on the poverty targets established by the national government of the United Kingdom, Kentucky policymakers have options as well. Kentucky policymakers have the power to help increase the economic stability of families by enacting two proven tax credits: implementing a refundable, state-level Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and making the state Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) refundable.