TOPEKA (KSNT) – Right before the election, the Department of Children and Families released numbers stating poverty had decreased under the Brownback Administration. Those original numbers were inaccurate.
“The answer is that in Kansas, childhood poverty is increasing and has been increasing for the past five years,” says Communications Director for Kansas Actions for Children, Lauren Beatty.
Kansas Action for Children released their new ‘Kids Count’ report Tuesday, which shows that more than one in five Kansas children live in poverty. That’s a 22 percent increase in the last five years.
In response to their initial inaccurate report, in a statement the Department for Children and Families says, “There was absolutely no intent to mislead voters ahead of the election. The U.S. Census report that we referenced in an earlier news release was simply misread.”
But organizations like Kansas Action for Children and the Salvation Army, say that with potential state cuts, numbers for those in need must be accurate.
“When the government makes changes, we always are the ones who are picking up the slack. The local not-for-profits,” says Director of Topeka’s Salvation Army, Maj. Brian Burkett.
As the need in Kansas has increased, the restrictions to get into need-based programs have tightened. Programs like SNAP, free and reduced lunches, and Medicaid are at record enrollments.
At Topeka’s Salvation Army, they say each year they see a five to 10 percent increase in a need for assistance. They say those numbers are reliable.
“Here at the Salvation Army, where we’ve served for over 100 years, I think we gauge pretty well the needs- the general needs of the community,” says Burkett.
And as the state continues to look at the budget, they hope legislators make poverty a priority.
“Families are still struggling,” says Beatty.