Funding for Missouri children at stake in 2020 census

Children playing on floor

When it comes to child well being, Missouri’s children are doing better than many other states in the country.   

The state ranks 26th in The Annie E. Casey 2018 Kids Count Data Book with 10 percent fewer children living in poverty between 2010 and 2016 and while the state has made gains, the questions around the upcoming 2020 Census may put the state at risk for future federal funding. 

“The bureau is concerned, based on its analysis of the previous census, that there can be an undercount of children, particularly children under five,” says Tracy Greever-Rice, Missouri KIDS COUNT program director. “They’re predicting there could be as many as 39,000 uncounted children here in Missouri.”

Missouri children also are doing better when it comes to job potential. There was a 44 percent decrease in the number of teens neither working nor attending school between 2010 and 2016.   And in the 2015-2016 school year, only 11 percent of the state’s students did not graduate high school. 

A stronger economy is producing better outcomes for parents and their children. The databook shows about 1.6 million fewer children nationwide are living in poverty than five years ago, more parents are employed and fewer families are spending a disproportionate amount of their income on housing costs, according to Laura Speer, associate director of policy reform and advocacy with The Casey Foundation.

“We’ve made some gains and we want to continue to benefit from those things,” she states. “But the economy alone is not going to provide what kids need through the work that their parents are able to get.” 

Greever-Rice says the economic well being and education of Missouri’s parents also impacts the state’s children. “Child well being isn’t just based on an individual child doing well, kids need to be safe in their homes,” he states. “We need their parents to do well and be successful and we need their communities to be successful.”

About 140,000 Missouri children, or roughly 10 percent, live in families with a head of household that has not completed a high school education, which experts say is an important predictor of economic stability.