March 9, 2020
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KAC Monthly Newsletter

KAC President John Wilson
Why we do what we do

The last few weeks have been packed for KAC and our team -- from weighing in on debates in the Legislature to supporting Medicaid expansion to following public health concerns.

But for this month's newsletter, I'd like to step back for a moment (you can stay up to date on all the statehouse happenings in our Vice President Adrienne Olejnik's newsletter).

Why is Kansas Action for Children here? What do we hope to accomplish? What problems do we want to address now and in years to come?

Too many Kansas children live in poverty.  A September 2019 report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation highlighted that nearly 51,000 Kansas children live in high-poverty, low-opportunity neighborhoods. Statewide, some 103,000 children live at the poverty line or below. That means a family of three earning $21,330 a year or less. More than 41,000 children in the state live in extreme poverty, in which a family of three makes less than $11,000 a year.  

Too many Kansas children are uninsured.  According to recent analysis by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, Kansas is one of the 13 states where the rate of uninsured young children has increased significantly in a two-year period. The state's rate has increased from 3.9 percent in 2016 to 4.9 percent in 2018.  The state's overall  rate of uninsured children stood at 5.1 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.  

Too many Kansas children don't have access to early education, or their families can't afford it.  According to the  2019 KIDS Count data , nearly half of rural Kansas counties do not have a child care center option. While these counties have home-based care options, the number of home-based care facilities throughout rural Kansas is not substantial enough to meet demand. Including both types of child care options, rural counties have roughly half of the  capacity  needed .  Even if capacity exists, costs are prohibitive:  The average annual cost of infant care in Kansas is $935 per month ,  according to the Economic Policy Institute. The high cost of child care strain s  many Kansas families, but particularly low-income ,  working families.  
Too many Kansas families face harsh restrictions to work and family supports.  In 2015, Kansas became a model for harsh restrictions to work and family support programs, harming children and families in the process. The "HOPE" Act shortened cash assistance eligibility, increased work requirements for mothers of infants, and placed unnecessary restrictions on where families can spend their much-needed cash assistance. A study from the University of Kansas shows a troubling link between access to anti-poverty support for children   and foster care placement.  Put simply,  as restrictions increase for anti-poverty programs, more Kansas children enter the foster care system. Right now, more Kansas children are in  an overburdened  foster care  system  than receiving TANF benefits .  
Too many Kansas children are simply going without.   In January 2020, the state of Kansas released a comprehensive needs assessment that describes the current landscape of the early childhood care and education system in Kansas. Data and input were collected from all 105 Kansas counties and  more than  6,000 Kansans. Two central findings emerged:   
  • "Families' experiences are profoundly shaped by where they live across the state and within communities."
  • "Too many young Kansas children grow up in families where basic needs are not met. The struggle to meet basic needs such as food, housing, and health care prevents families from fully meeting their child's developmental needs." 
So what are we doing about it?

Over the last year, we have toured the state, speaking with everyday Kansans, stakeholders, and direct-service nonprofits. We have looked into the eyes of those needing services. We have heard their stories. This direct experience, when coupled with the data, compels us toward our current work. We have seen what happens when our state can't help  fulfill  the basic needs of children and families, and we know what must change.   
We're not looking for tweaks. We're advocating   for meaningful changes to state and federal laws, regulations, and other administrative policies. This type of change will not happen simply by focusing on lawmakers in Topeka (although that's important!). This change can only happen when there is broad, sustained public support for policy solutions that improve health, education, and financial outcomes for children.  
You'll be hearing much more about our vision for Kansas in months to come. The job is big, but we're confident that the team and skills we have now, along with the power of an energized base of Kansans from all corners of the state, will make a difference.

It's not simple, but it's what we need to do. And if you'd like to join us on the journey, please keep following along. You can also donate right here.

Here's to the future,
John Wilson

Get ready for Census 2020!

The once-every-10-years U.S. Census kicks off March 12, and Kansas Action for Children has been spreading the word about the importance of counting every single person in our state. An undercount threatens federal funding for crucial programs that support children and families.

We've been collecting resources - videos, blog posts, and infographics - about the 2020 Census. Feel free to share the links with friends and family. And make sure that every Kansas kid counts!

A 2020 Census Story: Shape Your Future

A 2020 Census Story: Shape Your Future

The 2020 Census is Coming-and the Results Will Impact State Budgets

The U.S.  census kicks into full gear on April 1, 2020, and states are paying close attention. Not only will the census determine the distribution of congressional seats, but the data collected will have a profound impact on state budgets. How? Because of the role that the census plays in creating the datasets and statistical indicators used by many federal grant programs-such as  Medicaid, the  State Children's Health Insurance Program, and the  Women, Infants and Children nutrition program (WIC)-to apportion funding among states, local governments, and other grantees. Such programs   made up 32% of state revenues in 2017.

Make Your Family Count

Babies are Counting on an Accurate Census

The Decennial Census occurs once every ten years and babies count on us to get it right. Overlooking and undercounting young children has serious consequences. The population most likely to be missed in the Census is the same group of children most likely to live in poverty, experience homelessness, and live in stress. These babies can't afford to be missed.

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Visit our website at for a comprehensive overview of our work.