Press Release: New Rankings Show Healthiest and Least Healthy Counties in Kansas 2022

Childcare Costs Consume 22 Percent of Household Income in Kansas, Threatening Economic Security

5 Min Read

Apr 27, 2022

By

Kansas Health Institute

2022 Health ranking cover

The 2022 County Health Rankings, released on April 27 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI), are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org. To support state and local health improvement efforts, the Kansas Health Institute has produced individual county profiles that include a five-year comparison of County Health Rankings data and the “drivers,” or measures with the greatest impact, on the rankings in each county. View this year’s County Health Rankings Report and the 105 county profiles from this page. A new interactive dashboard with a map of Kansas will be posted on this page in the coming days as KHI provides additional resources for understanding the rankings.

The following was issued for immediate release by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
12:01 a.m. EDT

RANKINGS CONTACTS

Miranda Steele
Kansas Health Institute
msteele@khi.org
(785) 233-5443

Ashley Wilson
Burness
awilson@burness.com 
(202) 681-6127

Madison, Wis. — Johnson County ranks the healthiest in Kansas and Edwards County is the least healthy in the state, according to new County Health Rankings data from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). The Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

For more than a decade, Rankings’ data, evidence, guidance and stories have broadened the nation’s understanding about the multiple factors that shape health. This year, seven new actionable measures were introduced that local communities can consider as they work toward improving health for everyone. As the nation recovers from a generation defining crisis, this year’s Rankings explore what it takes to rebuild in ways that ensure economic security and health for everyone.

“Working together, we can transform public goods such as affordable and accessible childcare, quality public schools, and jobs that treat people with the dignity they deserve and the wages that will support their families,” said Marjory Givens, co-director of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. “This would not only ensure a just recovery from the pandemic for families and communities today but greater economic security, better health and well-being for generations to come.”

Economic security allows for families to do things like pay rent, access education and obtain childcare which all contribute to their health and well-being. The pandemic exacerbated the economic struggles of families with children and finding affordable childcare was particularly difficult.

The Kansas report reveals that for a family with two children, on average, 22 percent of household income goes to childcare. When a single expense – especially one as essential as childcare – consumes such a large portion of a paycheck, families are unable to afford other necessities. The impact of childcare cost burden is even more stark when exploring differences in household income by race and ethnicity; for example, a Black family in Kansas has a median household income of $39,274, while an Asian family’s median household income is $70,355. These income disparities demonstrate how economic security is not equally accessible to all people living in Kansas.

“The 2022 County Health Rankings are presented at a time when communities are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and turning their focus to resilience. As conversations about health and economic improvement continue across the state, the Rankings can support local efforts to identify and improve the factors that affect health,” said Kari Bruffett, vice president for policy, Kansas Health Institute. “The pandemic magnified, and in many cases worsened, longstanding disparities. The Rankings provide an opportunity to advance efforts to address equity in our communities. This year’s release builds on the existing data and resources with new measures related to income, family and social support, and education, as well as a new curated list of evidence-informed strategies to close the racial wealth divide.”

The pandemic was hard on working families, revealing gaps across the nation in childcare affordability. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ benchmark suggests that childcare is no longer affordable if it exceeds 7 percent of a household’s income. As it stands, there is not a single county in the country where childcare costs for two children are at or below the affordability benchmark.

Affordable, high-quality childcare is vital to building healthy communities. It lays a solid foundation for academic achievement for children, allows parents and caregivers to more fully participate in the workforce, and puts the nation on a path to a fair and just recovery.

This year’s What Works for Health includes a curated list with actionable strategies related to family and social supports, income and education that can support local changemakers as they work to expand economic opportunity. Each strategy is rated for its evidence of effectiveness and likely impact on health disparities. The Take Action Center also provides valuable guidance for communities who want to move with data to action.

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About the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps is a program of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Rankings, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, provides local communities with data on more than 90 health-influencing factors such as housing, education, jobs, and access to quality health care.

About the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health and equity. The Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those in academia and those in the policy and practice arena. The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. For more information, visit http://uwphi.pophealth.wisc.edu.

About Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.

Learn More About KHI