HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Kansas ranks seventh in economic well-being but is in the middle of the pack in education, health, and family and community context outcomes, according to the 2023 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report of recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
"What really stands out from this year's report is the need for high quality, affordable childcare that is accessible to all Kansas families," said John Wilson with Kansas Action for Children. "Also, the need for childcare professionals to receive a living wage in order to continue to provide that care."
Kansas’ average cost of center-based child care for a toddler was $8,074, or 8% of the median income of a married couple and nearly 26% of a single mother’s income in the state.
"Without access to high quality early learning opportunities, parents and caregivers can't get to work," Wilson said. "That obviously impacts their economic well-being, that impacts their ability to afford health insurance, afford housing, those sorts of things."
While the cost of care burdens families, child care workers are paid worse than 98% of professions. Median national pay for child care workers was $28,520 per year or $13.71 an hour in 2022, less than the wage for retail ($14.26) and customer service ($18.16) workers. But in Kansas, the average wage for fulltime child care workers is even lower at $11.27 an hour, or just $22,540 a year.
"In order to address fourth grade reading scores or eighth grade math scores, you don't do that in fourth grade and eighth grade," Wilson said. "You do that early in a child's life, by providing those high-quality affordable early learning opportunities that set them up for success when they enter kindergarten."
In the survey, Kansas ranked 17th overall — seventh in economic well-being, 22nd in health, 24th in family and community and 26th in education.