TOPEKA – Childhood poverty in Kansas is at the lowest level since 2004, according to the latest Kids Count report that uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the past five years, the number of Kansas children in poverty has decreased by 26 percent. Data also shows that 19 percent of children are living in poverty across the United States, compared to 14 percent in Kansas.

“When I became Governor of Kansas, my vision for the state included a reduction in childhood poverty, and that vision is being realized through effective welfare reforms and poverty-prevention programs,” said Governor Sam Brownback. “Approximately 99,000 Kansas children remain in poverty, so there is work left to do, but we are clearly heading in the right direction, and Kansas is leading other states to consider welfare reforms like ours, which encourage self-reliance and result in better outcomes for participants.”

According to the United States Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, released this month, Kansas is seeing its most dramatic decrease in childhood poverty. Last year’s report indicated 122,000 Kansas children were living in poverty. This year’s report indicates 23,000 fewer children in poverty.

In 2015, Governor Brownback signed into law the Kansas HOPE (Hope, Opportunity and Prosperity for Everyone) Act—the most comprehensive welfare reform in the nation that not only added permanency to existing work requirements, but also added additional provisions to strengthen the integrity of the welfare benefits system in Kansas. Additional reforms were added in 2016 to further self-reliance.

Since the passage of that legislation, state benefits programs, such as food, cash and child care assistance have increasingly incentivized employment over dependence, helping lift Kansans out of poverty.

“By encouraging work over reliance, we have broken the cycle of poverty for thousands of Kansans,” said Governor Sam Brownback. “Our policies are good for Kansas families, the economy and taxpayers.”

To learn more about the 2016 American Community Survey, visit www.census.gov or www.datacenter.kidscount.org. You can also use the United States Census Bureau’s FactFinder to do a state-by-state comparison at www.factfinder.census.gov.

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