Report shows conditions becoming more difficult for children in Missouri
The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2011 Kids Count Data Book has been released, showing the condition of children throughout the United States, In Missouri, signals were mixed through 2008, the last year for which statistics were available.
Between the base and current years, three outcome measures tracked in Missouri worsened, seven improved and one remained unchanged. Measures that improved are: high school drop outs, infant mortality, child deaths, teen violent deaths, child abuse and neglect family assessments, births to mothers without a high school diploma and births to teens.
The number of children placed out of the home for treatment increased by 10 percent. Students who qualified for free and reduced lunches rose by 15 percent. One measure, the percent of low birth-weight infants, remained the same.
According to the Census 2010 data, there are more than 1.4 million children living in Missouri. One in five of these children are of an ethnic/racial minority, including African American, Asian, Native American and children of one or more race/ethnicities. Although still a relatively small part of the overall child population, Hispanic children now make up 3 percent, a proportion almost double what it was in 1990.
The program counted 1,730 minority children in Barry County and 1,129 in Lawrence County. Children with limited English proficiency included 564 in Barry County, the highest in southwest Missouri, and 132 in Lawrence County, Jasper County had the second highest number in southwest Missouri with limited English proficiency at 544, followed by Greene County with 384.
According to the latest available numbers, the population of children has been at 1.4 million since 2006 and was down by 3,000 between 2007 and 2008.
The number of children in poverty was up sharply in recent years. The 255,953 children in poverty in 2007 represented a 20 percent increase over 2000 and an 11 percent increase over 1990. Adult unemployment in 2008 was 6.1 percent, the highest in five years.
The number of children receiving cash assistance, 63,621, was the lowest in five years, down 18 percent from 2004.
Children receiving food stamps 464,927, a steady increase of 9 percent over the last five years.
The 42,224 children receiving government subsidies represented an upswing after being lower in the previous two years.
Barry and Lawrence counties are in one of the upper ranges of students enrolled in free and reduced lunch, from 47.6 to 59.5 percent. The range was typical of southwest Missouri. McDonald County was worse, falling in the 59.6 to 75.9 percent range. Greene, Webster and Christian counties were the only counties rated better, and Christian County had the lowest percentage of under 36.1 percent.