Missouri’s children and families continue to struggle from the economic aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the 2023 release of the Missouri KIDS COUNT (MKC) data, announced in April by the Family and Community Trust (FACT).

The new databook shows that about one in six children in Missouri, 16.5% or nearly 223,000, live in poverty, representing a 10.7% decrease in child poverty from 2017 to 2021. However, other indications pointed out by these data showed more troubling trends. Infants born with lower birthweights – a predictor of children’s health later in life – increased, and some academic indicators, including high school graduation rates, declined from 2017 to 2021. Missouri KIDS COUNT provides a state and county-level snapshot of child well-being measuring indicators related to Economic Security, Child Protection and Safety, Education and Health.

“KIDS COUNT supports Missouri policymakers and providers in understanding how our kids are doing and ultimately moves us toward our shared goal of improving the lives of Missouri’s children,” said Bill Dent, FACT Executive Director. “Accurate information helps Missouri’s communities prioritize challenges and build effective programs to address those challenges.”

To examine trends over time, Missouri KIDS COUNT compares indicators over a 5-year period. Between 2017 and 2021 seven outcome measures improved in Missouri: children living in poverty, children living with food insecurity, births to teens, admissions of children to hospital emergency departments for asthma treatment, and substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect. Outcome indictors that worsened included: poverty rates for Black children, high-school graduation rates and babies born with a low birthweight.

According to the 2023 release, 1.38 million children (individuals under age 18) live in Missouri; nearly one-third (31.4%) are children under age 6; children of color make up more than one-quarter (28.3%) of the child population; and about one-quarter (24.2%) of children live in single-parent families, down from 32.9% in 2017.

“Missouri KIDS COUNT allows users to understand how their community’s children are faring compared to other parts of Missouri as well as to track trends over time,” said Tracy Greever-Rice, Missouri KIDS COUNT program director. “The KIDS COUNT report is a crucial tool for policymakers, providers, and advocates who need to make informed decisions to help children.”

Missouri KIDS COUNT is a project of FACT, a public-private board and 20 Community Partnerships working across Missouri on programs aiming to improve family and child outcomes. ARCHS serves as the St. Louis region's FACT Missouri KIDS COUNT representative.

St. Louis area data
Missouri state data