From the United Way of Kent County
Kent County has experienced minimal growth in population over the past 16 years.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census the total population of Kent County was 19,197 (47.9% male and 52.1% female). The 2012-2016 American Community 5-Year Estimates places the total population at 19,819 (48.4% male and 51.6% female).
The median age in Kent County is currently 46.5 years. Individuals in Kent County over 65 years of age increased from 19.3% of the total population in 2000 to 24.3% of the population in 2016. This increase reflects an additional 1,106 individuals 65 years of age and over in 2016.
Survey for Kent County 2000 U.S. Census for Kent County proportion of elderly is much higher than the State of Maryland average of 13.8% of the population over 65 years of age. Kent County’s aging population is currently positioned to place increasing demands on the local healthcare system. Unfortunately, local services are limited due to the shortage of health professionals and specialists available in this rural region. There has also been a 3% decline in the percentage of school-age children which represents a decrease of 487 individuals.
Thirty-four percent of the children under 18 years of age live in a household headed by a single parent (Robert Wood Johnson’s 2017 County Health Rankings). In 2016, grandparents were responsible for the basic needs of their grandchildren in 14% of all households with children under 18.
Ten percent of the population under 65 years of age has no health insurance. Medicaid enrollment data from Kent County Department of Health (November 2017) indicates that 3,115 adults – 22% of the adult population — are enrolled in Medicaid. The 2016 Medicare enrollment for Kent County for hospital and/or medical coverage is 6,229 adults (CMS.gov – Medicare Enrollment Dashboard). This Medicare number is larger than Kent County’s 65 years of age and over population. However, an individual can be eligible for Medicare regardless of their age if they qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Kent County has a lower ratio of physicians to population in primary, mental and dental health than the state average (Robert Wood Johnson’s 2017 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps).
Education Public school enrollment for 2016 for Kent County was 1,891 students (Maryland State Department of Education). This is the lowest public school enrollment of any jurisdiction in Maryland. The current projections from the Maryland Department of Planning for 2017-2026 predict a 1.6% decline in Kent County public school enrollment in the coming decade. All three elementary schools and the middle school in Kent County are designated as Title 1 schools for 2017-2018 (MSDE website). Eligibility for Title 1 funds are defined as schools in which children from low-income families make up at least 40 percent of enrollment.
At $55,028, the median household income for Kent County is much lower than the State of Maryland median household income of $76,067.
There are large differences in poverty levels based on age. 26.4% of children under 5 years of age are living in poverty in Kent County. The adult age group with the highest level of poverty is adults 18-34 years of age at 22.1%. There are also large disparities in the poverty level of minorities vs. whites.
2 or more races 44.6%
African American 23.6%
With the cost of living higher than what most people earn, ALICE families – an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – have income above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but not high enough to afford a basic household budget that includes housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care. While the Federal poverty level reports that only 9% of Kent County households face financial hardship, an additional 31% qualify as ALICE. When ALICE households cannot make ends meet, they are forced to make difficult choices such as foregoing health care, accredited child care, healthy food, or car insurance. These “savings” threaten their health, safety, and future – and have high costs for both ALICE families and the community.