The number of Missouri kids living in poverty has increased since 2008 according to an annual assessment of child well-being. Missouri is ranked 28th nationally in the latest Kids Count Data Book compiled by Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child welfare organization.
Senior Research Associate Florencia Gutierrez believes Missouri should increase its resources for poor families.
“Across the board in children living in high poverty areas and children whose parents lack secure employment, we found an 11% increase,” said Gutierrez. “Since the 2008 recession, the unemployment rate has consistently declined. We assumed with that decline we would see a decline in the child poverty rate. That hasn’t been the case.”
Some of the positive trends included the teen birth rate declining by 39%, fewer teens are abusing alcohol and drugs and the number of teens not graduating from high school on time is at a record low in Missouri.
“We know that at a national level, there has been large investments in education and prevention campaigns when it comes to teen pregnancy and abuse of alcohol and drugs among teens. We’ve also seen a large push from the federal government around education to set regulations and to hold states accountable for the drop out crisis that we saw in the early 2000s,” said Gutierrez.
Missouri’s overall ranking has held fairly steady since 2012.
Surrounding states’ rankings include:
“The states in the south, in general, rank poorly when it comes to child well-being. It’s not surprising that Missouri is sort of in the middle between those that are not investing in kids and those that are further North that are,” said Gutierrez. “Southern states have had a history of disinvestment when it comes to social programs and using government in order to help children and families get by.”
The data used to compile the report comes from federal statistical agencies like the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Education and National Survey of Children’s Health.