Kids Count: Fewer children in poverty

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By Linda Ireland

Fewer LaRue County children were living in poverty in 2010 than a decade ago, according to a report released by Kentucky Youth Advocates. Overall, health indicators improved during the period although there were areas of concern.
Kids Count monitors progress for Kentucky’s one million children on more than 100 measures of child well-being including health, safety, economic standards and education.
County data, provided by the Kids Count project, found that 16 percent of LaRue County children lived in poverty in 2010 compared to 19 percent in 2000.
Two of the largest jumps noted by the report were in children receiving funded health coverage through Medicaid or Kentucky’s Children Health Insurance Program (KCHIP).
KCHIP is for children younger than 19 who do not have health insurance and whose family income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Medicaid is a federal program that provides health coverage for low income families.
In 2000, 163 children were enrolled in KCHIP; in 2010, 312 were enrolled. That’s a 91 percent increase.
The average monthly number of children enrolled in Medicaid was 783 in 2000. Ten years later, 1,411 children were enrolled, an increase of 80 percent.
Statewide, 45 percent of children are enrolled in KCHIP while 52 percent are enrolled in Medicaid.
Fifty-seven percent of LaRue County children who are enrolled in KCHIP or Medicaid received dental services – an increase of 54 percent over the past 10 years.
“We saw a positive increase in the number of children enrolled in KCHIP and Medicaid from 2000 to 2010 which means more of Kentucky’s kids have the health care they need in order to be productive in school and life,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “However, a big change recently took place for almost 300,000 children on KCHIP and Medicaid as Kentucky moved to a statewide Medicaid managed care system.”
Brooks added that it is “critical that we monitor the cost savings, retention rates, and quality and access to services.”
One area of concern that has increased is the obesity rate of children enrolled in the Women, Infant, Children (WIC) program.
The WIC program provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education for low income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeed postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be at nutritional risk.
In 2002, 18 percent of LaRue’s WIC children were considered obese. In 2010, that number had jumped to 26.3 percent, an increase of 46 percent.
Statewide, the percent of obese WIC children decreased by 7 percent.