The impact of the down economy can been seen in the latest “Iowa Kids Count” survey that measures the well-being of Iowa kids based on 18 factors. The latest survey covers 2008, and Michael Crawford of the Child and Family Policy Center says most economic factors were down.
He says the unemployment rate, and food assistance rate have both increased more than 50-percent since 2000 and there are now one in seven childrend in Iowa living in poverty and one in three schoolchildren are now eligible for free and reduced priced lunches.
Crawford says the unfortunate thing is the numbers are likely to be worse in the survey next year. Crawford says there was improvement in a few of the non-economic areas. Crawford says the infant mortality rate and the child death rate have both decreased more than 10-percent since 2000 and student tests scores have gone up moderately. He says there were some non-economic areas of the survey that did not show improvement.
Crawford says the child abuse and neglect rate has increase by 19% since 2000 and the low-birthweight rate for babies has increase. He says it’s no surprise though that the financial areas are overshadowing everything else. Crawford says the important thing to help improve the state for kids is to continue the efforts to create jobs.
He says increasing the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour would help, as would increasing the earned income tax credit for low income families. The survey is paid for by a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which funds Kids Counts activities in all 50 states. You can see the entire survey on the Child and Family Policy Center website at: www.cfpciowa.org.