Kansas improves national ranking in overall child welfare


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The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its 2018 KIDS COUNT Data book. The most-recent report shows Kansas in a strong position, with the state ranking 13th in the nation in overall child well-being. This is a significant improvement from last year’s overall ranking of 15th.

Of the 16 child well-being indicators analyzed for the report, Kansas has improved in 11 key areas, among them, importantly, childhood poverty. The report demonstrates that more high school students are graduating on time, more children have access to health insurance, and more parents are working, lifting their families out of a cycle of government dependency and into self-reliance.

“This KIDS COUNT data clearly demonstrates that Kansas has made great strides for its youth and the Kansas model for welfare reform should be a blueprint for the rest of the nation to follow,” said Governor Jeff Colyer. “These aren’t just numbers, these are actual children that have been helped and I am glad to see the policies we have in place are having such a positive impact on vulnerable families. We will build upon this foundation and continue to emphasize statewide improvement in childhood well-being.”

Some of the substantial Kansas improvements in the KIDS COUNT Data book include:

  • The percentage of Kansas children in poverty dropped to 14 percent, from 18 percent in 2010.
  • The percentage of children whose parents lack secure employment declined to 20 percent from 27 percent in 2010.
  • The percentage of children in families where the household lacks a high school diploma dipped to 10 percent from 12 percent in 2010.
  • The number of teen births, per 1,000, is 22, down from 39 in 2010.
  • Kansas children without health insurance went from 8 percent in 2010, to 4 percent.

While the KIDS COUNT Data book illustrates that Kansas has made great strides for children, the Annie E. Casey Foundation notes that communities of color are not achieving the same outcomes of well-being as other communities. Under the leadership of Governor Colyer, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) already has plans in place to address these concerns—including implementing a cultural awareness training for child welfare staff. Additionally, in April, DCF sponsored The Governor’s Forum for the Well-being of Children and Families: Engaging the urban core church in child welfare. This forum allowed Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel to address the disproportionately of African American children in the Kansas foster care system. DCF is continuing to engage urban communities around ways we can effectively partner together to support at risk families.

DCF serves as the State social service agency, providing oversight for the well-being of children and their families. DCF focuses on child protection and strengthening families by working to reduce the number of children in State care, providing needed services and a safety net for the most vulnerable Kansans. Additionally, DCF partners with many community-based agencies that support at-risk families.


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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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