The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book is now available! The 25th edition of Casey’s annual report brings attention to the well-being of America’s children and examines how U.S. kids have fared since 1990.
While the report notes gains in child health, safety and education since 1990, it also raises concerns about the development of children living in low-income families and high-poverty communities. In addition, the report ranks states using 16 key indicators in the areas of economic well-being, health, education, and family and community in order to highlight the programs and policies states have used to improve well-being, and to note where improvements need to be made.
Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa rank at the top for overall child well-being, while Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi are at the bottom. Another example, the state of Indiana where I currently reside, ranks 19th in terms of the economic well-being of children, but experienced increases in the number of children living in poverty, and in the number of children whose parents lack secure employment. In comparison, the state ranks lower in terms of education and health indicators, but actually saw improvements in these areas.
Among other findings, the nation’s child population has become more diversified, experiencing a shift in racial and ethnic composition since 1990. The report notes that in recent years, children of color have represented nearly half of babies born in the United States, and by 2018, children of color will represent the majority of children born. But while the increased diversification of our population is a well-known fact, there’s much we can do to improve their outcomes. The report recognizes a racial gap in child well-being where children of color continue to experience negative outcomes at rates higher than the national average.
So what can we do with the data? The Data Book highlights case studies from across the country of successful programs and policies that have been used to improve the health, education, economic and family and community well-being of children. Among them: the State Earned Income Tax Credit, high quality pre-school programs particularly for the most disadvantaged children, improved health insurance access, and comprehensive family planning services, and many more. Download a copy of the report, and access materials here.