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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Annual report finds room for improvement for KS kids' lives, education

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Monday, June 10, 2024   

A report on the condition of America's children ranks Kansas in the bottom half of states for education, with declining reading and math scores among fourth and eighth graders.

The annual Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation noted Kansas reflects a national decline in levels of reading and math proficiency, affected by changes in learning environments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ryan Reza, data and policy analyst at the nonprofit Kansas Action for Children, said how children do in school is often affected by their home environment.

"There's no way to measure success without considering the family as a whole," Reza contended. "Children will not be successful in school if they don't have good home situations, and it's our responsibility to ensure that we can maintain that for them."

The report also ranks Kansas 19th overall in child well-being, 12th in economic well-being, 19th in health, 23rd in family and community, and 28th in education.

Adrienne Olejnik, vice president of Kansas Action for Children, said to improve families' ability to help kids learn in and outside of school, it is important to ensure access to low-cost or free meals, reliable internet connections, places to study, and time with friends, teachers and counselors.

"The policy solutions we look at is making sure that child care, the system is robust and well-funded, and we believe that comes through a variety of inputs," Olejnik outlined. "We think the federal government has a role, the state government has a role, local, but also businesses and parents."

A substantial number of Kansas children have experienced one or more adverse childhood experiences, which can negatively affect their development and ability to cope with challenges.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said trauma can have a profound effect on a child.

"Forty percent of children experience one or more adverse childhood effects," Boissiere reported. "Which could be divorce, incarceration of a parent, experience of domestic violence or even witnessing somebody in their community subjected to a violent act."

The report's rank­ings are based on 16 indi­ca­tors in four areas: economic well-being, edu­ca­tion, health, and com­mu­ni­ty and fam­i­ly.

Disclosure: The Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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