A foundation set up to promote better futures for all U.S. children has published its annual Kids Count report. For the past 25 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has ranked states based on health, economic well-being, and access to education resources for both children and parents. This year’s Kids Count report shows Missouri ranked 29th, down two spots from last year.
Director of Strategic Initiatives Patrice Cromwell says Missouri needs to invest more in early childhood, but has to help parents at the same time, so that they can have a stable family life.
“For the state of Missouri, what we have identified is there are over 195 thousand low income families with children that are 8 or younger, so these children don’t have the same access to opportunity.”
The report looks at multi-generational poverty and says 42 percent will stay in poverty if something doesn’t change. The study has found that early childhood makes a difference because low income children come ready for kindergarten at a much lower rate than their middle and high-income peers.
Cromwell says one statistic that stands out is “18 percent of parents in the state of Missouri are reporting that child care is affecting their ability to stay in a job or get a job.” The report suggests job training programs, apprenticeships, and workforce initiatives to help the entire family as the parents prepare for the workforce.
The Kids Count report calls for a two-generation approach working together with parents and children to end poverty. It outlines how the public, nonprofit, and private sectors must work together and recommends integrating state and federal employment, education and child care programs for parents and children to create better opportunities for the whole family.