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Jill Atwood ReportingWhen it comes to taking care of children, how does Utah measure up? According to the Latest Kids Count Report, not very well.
Child advocates are up on Capitol Hill pushing for more money for child healthcare because many families just can't afford it. They're also trying to desperately keep funding they have in other crucial areas.
Almost 79,000 kids in Utah live in poverty, meaning their parents make $18,000 a year or less.
Karen Crompton, Voices For Utah Children: "The cost of living has skyrocketed while assistance with needs like healthcare and early care are not available to many who are working at low wage jobs and living on the edge."
As a result of this, advocates have seen an increase in domestic violence cases and child abuse. In the year 2000 caseworkers substantiated just over 8,000 abuse cases. In 2003, that number went up to almost 11,000.
Terry Haven, Director, Kids Count: "Many families are working two and three jobs to get by, so families are stressed and when they are stressed they lash out."
Lack of healthcare for families is another major problem with programs like CHIP and Headstart only serving about half of the people eligible because of budget constraints.
Kids Count staff hopes lawmakers are listening to their research. Right now Utah is only one of a few of states that doesn't receive state funding for programs like Headstart.
Senator Hogue is working on House bill 244, which would allow more children to be covered under Medicaid.
On the upside of the report, teen pregnancy is down, so are substance abuse offenses among minors.