ARCHS' IT and Data Director Eric Monroe represented Missouri at the national Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT® Data Institute held in St. Louis in May. The training covered the use of data animation, geographical information systems (GIS), infographics, dashboards, and other tools to best communicate national and state-level KIDS COUNT® data and stories. More than 100 KIDS COUNT® state grantees from across the nation participated in the event.
Eric provides strategic technical support for ARCHS' information technology and database management systems, tracking 18 education and social service programs that annually serve more than 90,000 children and their family members. The Missouri Family and Community Trust (FACT), is the official Annie E. Casey KIDS COUNT® partner in Missouri. As one of FACT's 20 "community partnerships," ARCHS serves as the St. Louis region's KIDS COUNT® representative.
ARCHS' Diane Page has been appointed Co-Chair of the Quality Committee of the Missouri AfterSchool Network (MASN). Diane will work to continue the committee’s mission to ensure the development of resources that programs can use to improve the quality of after school in Missouri. She previously served on MASN's STEM Committee.
At ARCHS, Diane provides strategic technical assistance and professional development support to the After School for all Partnership (ASAP) that annually serves more than 4,000 children and their family members. Congrats Diane.
On April 29, 2016, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Rogers Middle School in Affton to announce a partnership with national anti-hunger not-for-profit Share our Strength and a coalition of state agencies and community-based organizations that includes ARCHS.
No Kid Hungry Missouri will work with school districts and other stakeholders to implement proven strategies to increase access to school breakfast, after school snacks, and summer meals. Currently, one in five children in Missouri struggle with hunger. In addition to this effort, ARCHS will continue this summer to lead a regional partnership with the USDA, the State of Missouri, and targeted school districts to increase summer food benefits through the nationally acclaimed Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children (SEBTC) program.
"Child hunger is a serious problem – but it's a solvable one. That's why we're teaming up with No Kid Hungry to connect more kids in Missouri to the healthy food they need where they live, learn, and play," Gov. Nixon said. "The No Kid Hungry Missouri campaign will work to break down the barriers that stand between kids and the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and strong."
Students who eat school breakfast are 20 percent more likely to graduate high school, average 17.5 percent higher on math test scores, and attend 1.5 more days of school per year. But currently, too many students from low-income families miss out on free or reduced-price school breakfast because it is most often served before they arrive, or they do not want to face the stigma of eating alone in the cafeteria.
Making breakfast a part of the school day, by serving it in the classroom or at "Grab n Go" carts, can overcome these barriers. For example, Rogers Middle School offers Second Chance Grab and Go breakfast to all students between second and third hour. More than 50 percent of students participate and the program has recently expanded to Affton High School with help from student leadership.
The lingering effects of the Great Recession continue to be felt by Missouri's children and families according to the 2016 Missouri KIDS COUNT® (MKC) Databook, released April 5 by the Family and Community Trust (FACT).
The 2016 MKC Databook shows that more than one in five children in Missouri, 21.3% or nearly 289,000, live in poverty, representing a 1.4% increase in child poverty from 2010 to 2014.
However, other indicators helpful in predicting poverty are nudging downward. For example, births to mothers without a high school diploma, a reliable predictor of persistent poverty, has improved in Missouri, with the percent of children born to such moms decreasing from approximately 17% to slightly less than 14%.
The databook provides an annual, state, and county-level analysis of child well-being measuring indicators of economic security, child protection and safety, education, and health.
"The well-being of Missouri's children and families frames the core of our work," said Bill Dent, FACT Executive Director. "The ability of our Community Partnerships and other child focused organizations to have relevant, reliable data is critical for them to be successful in their efforts.
All of this helps communities better prioritize issues and develop practical initiatives to ensure that children are healthy, secure, and prepared to flourish as they mature."
To examine trends over time, MKC compared 2014 data to the 2010 baseline data, which revealed that seven outcome measures improved in Missouri during this time period including: births to teens, teen unintentional injury/homicides/suicides, annual high school dropouts, births to mothers without a high school diploma, infant mortality, child deaths, and low birthweight infants. Outcomes that worsened between 2010 and 2014 include: children under 18 in poverty, child abuse/neglect and family assessments, and children entering/re-entering state custody.