The annual “Kids Count” survey that examines 18 indicators that impact the lives of children in the state is out today. Iowa Kids Count director, Michael Crawford, says this year’s survey shows the impact of the economic downturn. Crawford says there is some improvement on the health and education indicators, but the economic and financial well being has deteriorated.
“The percentage of people receiving food assistance…has increased 140-percent, the unemployment rate is up 130-percent since 2000, one in three children is now eligible to receive free and reduced price lunches, and one in seven children live in poverty,” Crawford says. Crawford says the economic situation is actually worse because of the lag in collecting data.
He says the new 2009 poverty figures have come out since the report was printed and they show 10-thousand more children have fallen below the poverty level, so the number of children below the poverty level has increased 40-percent since 2000. Crawford says there is some good news in some areas.
Crawford says the health and education indicators have shown some improvement since 2000, for example infant mortality, child deaths, teen deaths, and teen births have gone down, while student test scores have gone up. “In health and education I think we’re doing well, the economic side, not so well,” Crawford says.
Crawford says low income insurance and food assistance for families has helped, but he says the focus needs to continue to be on cutting the unemployment. Crawford says it’s very important for workers to have jobs above the poverty-level income, and that is what policymakers are working on.
You can see the entire survey on-line at: www.cfpciowa.org.