Kentucky Youth Advocates have released the Kids Count data book for the state. The book “focuses on fifteen indicators of economic well-being and gives a glimpse into the effects of the national recession on children and families in the Commonwealth.”

What does it say?

Eight of the book’s ten indicators measuring children’s receipt of work supports showed an increase in participation since 2000, including the following:

  • Between 2000 and 2009 the number of children receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefits increased by 56 percent (over 100,000 children).
  • Participation in the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) increased by 24 percent (over 20,000 children) between 2000 and 2009.
  • The percent of children attending public schools eligible for free or reduced-price meals increased from 48 percent to 52 percent between the 1999-2000 and 2009-2010 school years.
  • In 2009, an average of 60,778 children were enrolled in the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) each month, up 35 percent from 2000.
  • Medicaid enrollment grew by 47 percent (over 123,000 children) from 2000 to 2009.
  • The number of children receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits grew by 31 percent (over 6,900 children) between December 2000 and December 2008.

Despite these increases in receipt of benefits, many children and families in Kentucky are still missing out on work supports they are eligible for due to barriers such as lack of information and a confusing and laborious application process. For instance, estimates suggest that between 15 and 25 percent of Kentuckians eligible for the EITC do not claim it when they file their taxes. And while Kentucky’s participation in SNAP is high, a 2009 study of food bank users found that almost half do not receive SNAP. In addition, only 58 percent of eligible children participated in WIC in 2008.

You can see the book here (PDF).

Previously, the national data book ranked Kentucky 40th in the nation in overall child well-being. WFPL’s State of Affairs recently featured a panel discussion on the report.

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