GIRARD — The poverty rate among children ages five and younger in Crawford County is slightly higher than the 21.1 percent for the county’s population overall, while that of adults ages 65 and older is slightly less than half the broader poverty rate.
These are just a few of the interesting numbers which can be found in the most recent Southeast Kansas Community Action Program (SEK-CAP) Community Needs Assessment report, which representatives of the organization presented to the Crawford County Commission at its Feb. 21 meeting.
Issues facing Crawford County and the broader southeast Kansas region include housing, transportation, workforce readiness, addiction, child care and health care, SEK-CAP Community Engagement Director Dick Horton said. Locally, he said, child care is the number one issue in Crawford County, as identified by the Imagine Pittsburg 2030 plan.
Social services agencies in Crawford County, the broader region, and across the state rely on grant funding, Horton pointed out. This is one major reason the organization releases its Community Needs Assessment reports every three years, “thinking that it’s about as close as we can get to having a one-stop-shopping source for data,” Horton said, “and we feel really good about that because it’s going to save a lot of folks a lot of time.”
Some other notable statistics from the report include that Crawford County’s population decreased by 0.6 percent between 2013 and 2017, the teen pregnancy rate is 14.8 percent, the immunization rate is just under 60 percent, and that more than half of renters in the county — 56.7 percent — spend 30 percent or more of their income on rent.
Among 10 counties of 12 in the region which have homicide rates that are included in the report, Crawford County’s rate of 2.6 percent per 100,000 people is the lowest other than Neosho County’s 2.5 percent rate. The crime rate of 3.6 percent, however, is among the top five of the 12 counties served by SEK-CAP — which in addition to Crawford County include Allen, Bourbon, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Elk, Labette, Linn, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson counties.
In response to a question from Commissioner Jeremy Johnson, SEK-CAP Grant and Report Coordinator Tiffany Romine described the methodology used to generate the report.
“We use data from very reputable sources — the Census Bureau, Kids Count, things like that — to get our data, and then we also had to do a lot of legwork,” Romine said, adding that the report was a five-month effort.
“We did online surveys, stakeholder meetings, public meetings, anything we could do to get out in our case in the 12-county area but certainly here in Crawford County to talk with folks,” Horton said. “We didn’t want to be guessing about what they think their issues are, we wanted to ask them.”
SEK-CAP paid for some data used in the report, Horton said, and in at least one case made hundreds of phone calls in an attempt to track down a single data set.
Though the report was published last year, it is meant to cover the community needs of the 12-county region for the period through 2021. An updated version of the report with more recent data will be published in May and made available on the SEK-CAP website, Romine said.
“We couldn’t find anything else around here that looked like this or offered this kind of resource availability so this is something kind of new that we’ve pioneered on our own,” Romine said.