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2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book Reports Improvements and Persistent Disparities in Children’s Well-Being

The 31st edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book, an annual assessment of how children are faring in the United States and in each state, was published on June 22, 2020. The 2020 Data Book is based on the most recent data available (2018 data for most indicators) and documents key trends in child well-being since 2010. These data provide information about child well-being prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic. They do not reflect current conditions under the pandemic. Policymakers, researchers, and advocates depend on these regularly published data to highlight strengths and vulnerabilities for children and their families.

Members of PRB’s U.S. Programs staff have played an essential role in the production of the Data Book since its inception, providing feedback on the design and measurement of the KIDS COUNT index and compiling the data presented in the Data Book.

The 2020 Data Book reports that 11 out of the 16 key indicators showed improvement, and two indicators—the percent of babies born with low birth weight and the percent of children living in single-parent families—worsened.

The 2020 Data Book also highlights persistent racial and ethnic disparities in child well-being. Although the data show that children of all races experienced improvements across many of the 16 indicators of child well-being, deep inequities continue to persist. These large racial and ethnic gaps in child well-being indicate that children of color continue to face steep barriers to opportunities and success.

The 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book may be accessed at aecf.org/databook. Additional tools, maps, graphs, and data on many more indicators of child well-being are available at the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

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2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book Shows Continued Improvements—and Gaps—in Child Well-Being

The 30th edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book was published on June 17, 2019.

The KIDS COUNT Data Book, an annual assessment of how children are faring in the United States and in each state, features a comprehensive index of child well-being and includes a national profile and state-level rankings across four content domains: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health, and (4) Family and Community.

PRB’s U.S. Programs staff have played an essential role in the production of the Data Book since its inception, providing feedback on the design and measurement of the KIDS COUNT index and compiling the data presented in the Data Book.

In celebration of the 30th edition, the 2019 Data Book includes analysis of changes in the size and composition of the child population since 1990, highlighting the implications for child well-being. Since 1990, the child population has become more racially and ethnically diverse and the share of children with at least one immigrant parent has more than doubled. Growth in the child population has varied across states, with the fastest growth in the South and West. Texas alone has nearly 2.5 million more children in 2017 than in 1990, accounting for more than a quarter of the national increase across this period. Although child well-being has improved in many ways since 1990, the fastest-growing and largest states also tend to be those with lower rankings on overall child well-being.

National Trends in Child Well-Being Continue to Improve

The 2019 Data Book highlights key trends in child well-being since 2010. Based on the most recent data available, 11 out of the 16 key indicators improved since 2010 and only one indicator—the percent of babies born with low birth weight—worsened.

  • Children experienced broad gains in economic well-being, with all four indicators improving. Despite these gains, nearly one in five children still lived in poverty.
  • High school graduation rates continued to increase, with 85 percent of students graduating on time in 2016/2017. However, the share of public-school eighth graders who are proficient in math remains unchanged, with just one-third scoring as proficient.
  • Children’s health insurance coverage improved—5 percent of children lacked health insurance coverage in 2017 compared with 8 percent in 2010. Yet, the child and teen death rate has remained unchanged since 2010, and the percent of low-birthweight babies increased for the third consecutive year.
  • The teen birth rate continues to fall, dropping to a new low of 19 births per 1,000 teenage girls in 2017. This rate shows significant improvement from 34 births per 1,000 teenage girls in 2010 and 60 births per 1,000 teenage girls in 1990.

Wide Differences Remain in Child Well-Being Across States

National-level data can mask state and regional variations in child well-being. States in the Northeast tend to have the highest levels of overall child well-being. This year, New Hampshire ranked first and Massachusetts second. States in the South and Southwest tend to rank lowest in overall child well-being, with Mississippi (48), Louisiana (49), and New Mexico (50) having the lowest rankings this year.

  • In 2017, 43 percent of children in California lived in households that spent a disproportionate amount of income on housing compared to 18 percent of children in North Dakota and South Dakota.
  • Massachusetts was the only state in which half of the students in public school were considered proficient in reading or math—more than half of fourth graders were proficient in reading (51 percent) and at least half of eight graders were proficient in math (50 percent).
  • Since 2010, children’s health insurance coverage rates have improved in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Only 1 percent of children in Massachusetts lacked health insurance coverage compared with 11 percent in Texas.
  • Less than 1 percent of children in Wyoming lived in high-poverty areas compared with 24 percent of children in Mississippi and New Mexico.
  • The teen birth rate declined in all states, yet wide gaps remain. In 2017, Massachusetts and New Hampshire had the lowest rate of teenage childbearing with 8 births per 1,000 teenage girls, compared with the highest rate in Arkansas at 33 births per 1,000 teenage girls.

Racial and Ethnic Gaps in Child Well-Being Persist

Since 2010, children of all races experienced improvements across many of the 16 indicators of children’s well-being, yet deep inequities continue to persist. African American, American Indian, and Latino children are more likely than the average child to be poor, have parents who lack secure employment, and live in high-poverty neighborhoods. African American children have the highest rates of living in single-parent families, and American Indian children are the most likely to lack health insurance. Latino children are most likely to live with a household head who lacks a high school diploma and to not be in school when they are young. African American teenage girls and Latina teenagers have the highest rates of teenage childbearing. These large racial and ethnic gaps in child well-being indicate that children of color continue to face steep barriers to success.

The 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book shows that while substantial work remains to be done to secure a bright future for all children and young adults, many factors leading to children’s healthy development have improved since the release of the first Data Book in 1990 and since 2010. These results provide encouragement that the nation and states can advance the work needed to improve the prospects for all children. For the most recent national, state, and local data on hundreds of measures of child well-being, visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.


2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book

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2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book: Trends in Child Well-Being

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book on June 27, 2018. The KIDS COUNT Data Book provides an up-to-date and detailed picture of how children are faring in the United States, nationally and in each state. The KIDS COUNT Data Book features a comprehensive index of child well-being and includes a national profile and state-level rankings across four content domains: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health, and (4) Family and Community. The 2018 Data Book focuses on key trends in child well-being during the economic recovery following the Great Recession. Over the last six years, children experienced gains in economic well-being, but results were mixed for the Health, Education, and Family and Community domains.

This year, the Data Book also highlights the growing undercount of young children in each decennial census since 1980, and discusses the risks and implications of another undercount in 2020. Given the importance of the decennial census in determining federal funding for states and localities for the next decade, the Data Book outlines strategies that could help improve the count of young children in the 2020 Census.

Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has played an instrumental role in the KIDS COUNT Data Book since 1992. U.S. Programs staff provide feedback on the design and measurement of the KIDS COUNT index of child well-being and compile the data presented in the Data Book.

Children’s Well-Being Is Improving in the Post-Recession Years

  • All four economic well-being indicators improved since 2010. In 2016, fewer children were living in poverty, fewer children had parents who lacked secure employment, and fewer families were spending a disproportionate share of their income on housing costs. Despite these improvements, one in five children still lived in poverty.
  • High school graduation rates reached an all-time high in 2015/2016 with 84 percent of high school students graduating on time. In 2010/2011, only 79 percent of high school students graduated on time.
  • More children have health insurance coverage. In 2016, only 4 percent of children did not have health insurance coverage compared with 8 percent in 2010. Children’s insurance coverage has improved in 45 states since 2010, primarily due to expanded access to health insurance.
  • The teen birth rate continued its dramatic decline, reaching its lowest level ever. The rate of teenage childbearing declined by 41 percent, dropping from 34 births per 1,000 teenage girls in 2010 to 20 births per 1,000 teenage girls in 2016.

States in the Northeast tend to have the highest levels of overall child well-being. This year, New Hampshire ranked first and Massachusetts second. States in the South and Southwest tend to have lower levels of overall child well-being; Mississippi (48), Louisiana (49), and New Mexico (50) had the lowest overall child well-being rankings this year. State-level gaps in child well-being reflect variation in the resources available to children and in state- and local-level policy. Such state-level variation shows bright spots for child well-being and areas for continued improvement.

  • More than four in ten children in California lived in households that spend a disproportionate amount of income on housing compared with slightly less than two in ten children in North Dakota.
  • Nationally, one-third of eighth graders in public schools were proficient in mathematics. Massachusetts was the only state with at least half of eighth graders proficient in math. At 19 percent, Louisiana had the lowest share of eighth grade students proficient in mathematics.
  • In 2016, the child and teen mortality rate was 26 deaths per 100,000 children and youth ages 1 to 19. South Dakota had the highest child and teen death rate at 47 deaths per 100,000 children, and Rhode Island had the lowest rate at 15 child and teen deaths per 100,000 children.
  • The teen birth rate declined in all states, yet wide gaps remain. In 2016, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire had the lowest rates of teenage childbearing with 9 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19, compared with the highest rate in Arkansas with 35 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Child Well-Being Persist

Since 2010, African American, American Indian, and Latino children experienced improvements across the 16 indicators of children’s well-being, yet deep inequities continue to persist. Children of color had lower levels of well-being than non-Hispanic white children on nearly all indicators that were tracked in the Data Book. These large racial and ethnic gaps in child well-being indicate that children of color continue to face steep barriers to success.

The 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book demonstrates that many factors that lead to children’s healthy development have improved since 2010. The data also show that substantial work remains to be done to secure a bright future for all children and young adults. For the most recent national, state, and local data on hundreds of measures of child well-being, visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

Woman and child playing with wooden blocks.

2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book: How Are Children Faring?

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book on June 13, 2017. The KIDS COUNT Data Book—now in its 28th year—provides an up-to-date and detailed picture of how children are faring in the United States, nationally and in each state. The KIDS COUNT Data Book features a comprehensive index of child well-being and includes a national profile and state-level rankings across four content domains: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health, and (4) Family and Community. The 2017 Data Book reveals many bright spots for children and family well-being during the economic recovery following the Great Recession, yet room for improvement remains in many areas.

Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has played an instrumental role in the KIDS COUNT Data Book since 1992. U.S. Programs staff provide feedback on the design and measurement of the KIDS COUNT index of child well-being and compile the data presented in the Data Book.

Children’s Well-Being Is Improving Following the Great Recession

Since 2010, outcomes for children improved on 11 out of the 16 indicators that are tracked as part of the Data Book.

  • All four economic well-being indicators improved since 2010. Although there has been significant improvement since 2010, children and families have not fully recovered from the Great Recession. More children are living in poverty and more children have parents who lack secure employment than in 2008.
  • High school graduation rates reached another all-time high in 2014/2015 with 83 percent of high school students graduating on time. In 2010/2011, 79 percent of high school students graduated on time.
  • More children have health insurance coverage. In 2015, only 5 percent of children did not have health insurance coverage compared to 8 percent in 2010. In 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the share of children without health insurance was 5 percent or less. Mostly due to expanded access to health insurance, children’s insurance coverage has improved in 44 states since 2010.
  • The teen birth rate continued its dramatic decline, reaching another historic low. The rate of teenage childbearing declined by 54 percent, dropping from 34 births per 1,000 teenage girls in 2010 to 22 births per 1,000 teenage girls in 2015.

Geographic Differences in Child Well-Being Remain Wide

Despite broad improvements in child well-being since 2010, stark differences across states remain. States in the Northeast tend to have the highest levels of overall child well-being and states in the South and Southwest tend to have lower levels of overall child well-being. State-level gaps in child well-being reflect variation in the resources available to children as well as state- and local-level policy variation. Such state-level variation shows bright spots for child well-being and areas for continued improvement.

  • The share of children whose parents lack secure parental employment improved nationally and in nearly all states since 2010. Yet, 37 percent of children in Mississippi and West Virginia have parents who lack secure employment compared with 20 percent in North Dakota and Utah.
  • Less than one-third of eighth graders in public schools are proficient in mathematics. At 17 percent, Alabama has the lowest share of eighth grade students who are proficient in mathematics; Massachusetts is the only state with more than half of eighth graders proficient in math at 51 percent.
  • In 2015, the child and teenage mortality rate was 25 deaths per 100,000 children ages 1 to 19. Montana had the highest child and teen death rate at 43 deaths per 100,000 children and Connecticut had the lowest rate at 15 child and teenage deaths per 100,000 children.
  • Nationally, 14 percent of children are living in high-poverty neighborhoods. Vermont and Wyoming have the lowest share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods at only 1 percent, compared to Mississippi with the highest share at 27 percent.

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Child Well-Being Persist

Across the 16 indicators of children’s well-being, African American, American Indian, and Latino children experienced positive gains since 2010, yet deep inequities continue to persist. Children of color experience negative outcomes at a higher rate than non-Hispanic white children on nearly all indicators that are tracked in the Data Book. These large racial and ethnic gaps in child well-being indicate that children of color continue to face steep barriers to success.

In October 2017, the Annie E. Casey Foundation will release the second edition of Race for Results, which explores how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state levels. U.S. Programs staff at PRB will play an integral role in developing this report.

The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book demonstrates that in many respects children’s well-being in the United States is improving. The data also show that substantial work remains to be done to secure a bright future for all children and young adults. For the most recent national, state, and local data on hundreds of measures of child well-being, visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.


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2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book: How Are Children Faring?

(June 2016) The Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book on June 21, 2016. The KIDS COUNT Data Book—now in its 27th year—provides an up-to-date and detailed picture of how children are faring in the United States, nationally and in each state. The KIDS COUNT Data Book features a comprehensive index of child well-being and includes a national profile and state-level rankings across four content domains: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health, and (4) Family and Community. The 2016 Data Book reveals that the current generation of children and teens are making strides in health and education, yet families with children continue to face significant challenges recovering from the Great Recession.

Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has played an instrumental role in the KIDS COUNT Data Book since 1992. U.S. Programs staff provide feedback on the design and measurement of the KIDS COUNT index of child well-being and compile the data presented in the Data Book. This year, ongoing research at PRB on teenage and young adult mortality in the United States helped provide deeper insight to the Casey Foundation and the KIDS COUNT state grantees about child and teenage health trends.

Bright Spots Show Progress for Children’s Well-Being

  • Births to teenage mothers continue to fall, reaching historic lows. In 2014, there were 24 births per 1,000 teenage girls ages 15 to 19—a 40 percent improvement relative to 2008, when there were 40 births per 1,000 teenage girls.
  • Fewer teenagers abuse drugs and alcohol. Five percent of teenagers reported abusing drugs and/or alcohol in 2013/2014, down from 8 percent in 2007/2008.
  • High school graduation rates are at an all-time high with 82 percent of high school students graduating on time in 2012/2013. In 2007/2008, just 75 percent of high school students completed high school on time.
  • More children have health insurance coverage. Six percent of children did not have health insurance coverage in 2014 compared to 10 percent in 2008.

Troubling Trends for Children’s Economic Security Remain a Concern

  • The child poverty rate has not recovered to prerecession levels. Twenty-two percent of children were living in poverty in 2014, up from 18 percent in 2008.
  • The share of children whose parents lack secure employment has improved since 2010, but remains higher than the share in 2008. In 2014, three out of 10 children have no parent with regular, full-time employment.
  • A growing share of children are living in high-poverty neighborhoods—where at least 30 percent of the neighborhood was poor. In 2010-2014, 14 percent of children were living in high-poverty neighborhoods compared to 11 percent of children in 2006-2010.

Suicide Becomes the Second-Leading Cause of Death Among Teenagers Ages 15 to 19

As the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book shows, the child and teenage death rate has improved since 2008. However, a more in-depth analysis of teenage mortality by PRB reveals alarming trends that are masked by the general improvement in child and teenage death rates. PRB’s U.S. Programs staff analyzed mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found that while the overall teenage mortality rate has been declining, the teenage suicide rate has been increasing since 2007. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among teenagers ages 15 to 19 in the United States. The higher overall suicide rate is driven by a rising suicide rate among teenage girls and growth in the use of suffocation as a method of suicide. Despite increases in the suicide rate, the United States is making progress in keeping children safe from harm—the overall improvement in teenage mortality is the result of large declines in traffic accidents and homicide death rates.

Racial/Ethnic and Geographic Disparities in Child Well-Being Are Pervasive

African American, American Indian, and Latino children continue to experience negative outcomes at a higher rate than non-Hispanic white children on nearly all indicators that are tracked in the Data Book. Children in the upper Midwest and New England are doing better than children in the South and Southwest.

The 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book demonstrates that in many respects children’s well-being in the United States is improving. The data also show that substantial work remains to be done to secure a bright future for all children and young adults. For the most recent national, state, and local data on hundreds of measures of child well-being, visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

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(July 2014) The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released a special 25th edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book that highlights efforts since 1990 to raise awareness locally and nationally about how kids are doing and what policies and programs might lead to improvements in child well-being in the United States. The Population Reference Bureau provided key analysis and input.

The special edition finds that despite tremendous gains during recent decades for children of all races and income levels, inequities among children persist, and children of color face more obstacles to opportunity.

Long-Term Trends

In assessing the context for 25 years of change in child well-being, the Data Book shows that between 1990 and 2012, the child population in the United States grew from 64 million to 74 million and exhibited a fundamental shift in racial and ethnic composition. The share of white children declined by 16 percentage points while the share of Latino children doubled. According to the Data Book, “by 2018, children of color will represent a majority of children, and by 2030, the majority of workers will be people of color. By the middle of the 21st century, no single racial group will comprise a majority of the population.”

While the report finds critical improvements in child well-being since 1990—a steady rise in the number of children attending preschool, an increase in the number of kids proficient in reading and math, increased access to health care, increased education levels of parents, and declines in the teen birth rate and the child mortality rate—some negative trends remain:

  • The child poverty rate dropped from 18 percent in 1990 to 16 percent in 2000, but has since risen again to 22 percent, resulting in more than 16 million children living in poverty in 2012.
  • In 1990, 25 percent of children lived in a single-parent household; by 2012, this share had risen to 35 percent.
  • The share of low birth-weight babies has risen.
  • The share of children growing up in poor communities has increased; in 2012, 13 percent of children were living in neighborhoods where the poverty rate was 30 percent or higher.

Recent Trends

To examine more recent trends in child well-being between 2005 and 2012, the Data Book uses 16 indicators across four areas: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. The results show that while children have continued to progress in the areas of education and health, three of the four indicators of economic well-being continue to be worse in the postrecession years than they were in the years preceding the recession. Although the majority of economic indicators do show slight improvement at the national level compared with last year’s Data Book, the lagging economy continues to affect children adversely with more children living in single-parent families and high-poverty areas, and having parents who lack secure employment and have high housing-cost burdens.

According to the report, research shows that the best predictors of success for children are a healthy start, two married parents with adequate family income, doing well in school, avoiding teen pregnancy and substance abuse, and becoming connected to work and opportunity. The Data Book notes the differences in child well-being and long-term outcomes that can be made at the state and federal levels through smart policies, effective programs, and high-quality practices, and stresses that additional attention needs to be focused on reducing:

  • The number of kids living in poverty and in high-poverty neighborhoods.
  • The share of single-parent families.
  • The share of low birth-weight babies.
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PRB and Casey Foundation Create Index of U.S. Child Well-Being

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently launched its Race for Results Index, a new collection of data developed by demographers at the Population Reference Bureau (PRB). The index disaggregates data by racial and ethnic group and by state in order to measure the “impact of a child’s race on his or her opportunity for success in adulthood,” according to the foundation.

The foundation funds states, cities, and neighborhoods to find innovative ways to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families. The index was featured in the KIDS COUNT policy report, Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children.1

The Benefits of an Index

Policymakers are looking for easy ways to understand information. An index is a concise way to describe data over time, across different geographic areas, population groups, and domains.

The Race for Results Index compares how children are progressing on key benchmarks for health, education and family environment, and neighborhoods. The higher the score (on a scale of zero to 1,000), the better children in that group are doing. At the national level the index shows that no one group is meeting all of the benchmarks. African American, American Indian, and Latino children face some of the biggest challenges to opportunity. Asian and Pacific Islander children have the highest overall index score at 776, followed by white children at 704. Considerably lower are Latino children (404), American Indian children (387), and African American children (345).

The index is built on a complex set of data. PRB worked with the foundation to select 12 key indicators that have been linked to the likelihood of becoming middle class by middle age, and that reflect the importance of supportive families and communities to child well-being:

  • Babies born at normal birth weight.
  • Children ages 3 to 5 enrolled in nursery school, preschool, or kindergarten.
  • Fourth graders who scored at or above proficient in reading.
  • Eighth graders who scored at or above proficient in math.
  • Females ages 15 to 19 who delay childbearing until adulthood.
  • High school students graduating on time.
  • Young adults ages 19 to 26 who are in school or working.
  • Young adults ages 25 to 29 who have completed an associate’s degree or higher.
  • Children who live with a householder who has at least a high school diploma.
  • Children who live in two-parent families.
  • Children who live in families with incomes at or above 200 percent of poverty.
  • Children who live in low-poverty areas (poverty <20 percent).

Across the indicators, the range in percentages varies widely (for example, the percent of babies born at normal birth weight has a much smaller range of possibilities compared to the percent of 4th graders reading at or above proficient), so PRB developed a standardized score in order to make comparisons on a scale of zero to 1,000. Each standardized score (the index) was presented for all states and racial groups.

Concentrated Disadvantages for Regional Groups of Children

Mark Mather, PRB’s associate vice president for U.S. Programs, helped develop the index. He points out the importance of being able to show the wide racial and ethnic gaps in well-being as they vary across the country. “What is most striking to me is the concentrated disadvantage of certain groups in certain parts of the country—American Indian children in the Dakotas, African Americans in the northern Midwest states, whites in Appalachia, and Latinos in parts of the Deep South,” he explained.

Although there has been some progress, such as good performance across all racial groups in delaying childbearing, the report reveals some alarming results. On most indicators, Latino children in immigrant families have the steepest obstacles to success. Other glaring problems across racial and ethnic group include:

  • Only 17 percent of African American and 19 percent of Latino fourth graders scored at or above proficient in reading, compared to a poor national average of 34 percent.
  • Only 14 percent of African American and 21 percent of Latino and American Indian eighth graders scored at or above proficient in math, compared to a poor national average of 34 percent.
  • Only 65 percent of American Indian young adults ages 19 to 26 are in school or working, compared to the national average of 83 percent.
  • Only 63 percent of Latino children live in a household with someone who has at least a high school degree, compared to the national average of 85 percent.

As the United States becomes more diverse, the foundation hopes the Race for Results Index will be used by policymakers to equalize opportunity for all children.


Reference

  1. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children (Baltimore: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2014), accessed at www.aecf.org/~/media/Pubs/Initiatives/KIDS%20COUNT/R/RaceforResults/RaceforResults.pdf, on April 10, 2014.
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2010 KIDS COUNT Data Book

According to data released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in its annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, overall improvements in child well-being that began in the late 1990s stalled in the years just before the current economic downturn.

  • Five areas have improved: the infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen death rate, and teen birth rate; and the percent of teens not in school and not high school graduates.
  • Three areas have worsened: the percent of babies born low birth weight, the child poverty rate, and the percent of children living in single-parent families.
  • Two areas are not comparable: changes made to the American Community Survey’s (ACS) 2008 questionnaire regarding employment affected the ability to track trends for the percent of teens not in school and not working, and the percent of children in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment.

“We won’t be able to assess the full impact of the economic downturn on children and families for a number of years,” said Laura Beavers, national KIDS COUNT coordinator at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “The economic data that the Census Bureau will release later this year will give a better picture of family economic well-being in the recession. However, even data from 2008 that was collected before the recession took hold shows economic conditions were worsening for kids.”

Based on trend data released by the Casey Foundation, the rate of children living in poverty in 2008 was 18 percent, indicating that 1 million more children were living in poverty in that year than in 2000. Experts project that more up-to-date Census data will show the child poverty climbing to above 20 percent. This year’s Data Book offers good news as well. More teens in 2008 across all five of the largest racial and ethnic groups were either in school or had obtained a high school diploma or General Education Diploma compared with teens in 2000.

According to the report, the teen birth rate fell from 48 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19 in 2000 to 43 births per 1,000 females in this age range in 2007. However, there is bad news related to teen births. Although still below the rate of 2000, the teen birth rate did increase from 40 to 43 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19 between 2005 and 2007.

Looking across all child well-being indicators, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Vermont rank highest, and Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi rank the lowest. Six states with the biggest improvements in their rankings between 2000-2007 (health data) and 2000-2008 (economic data) are New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, Oregon, and Wyoming. The five states with the biggest drops in their rankings between 2000-2007 and 2000-2008 are Montana, South Dakota, Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii.

In addition to the 10 key measures tracked in the Data Book, the KIDS COUNT Data Center (http://datacenter.kidscount.org) provides easy, online access to the latest child well-being data on hundreds of indicators by state, county, city, and school district. It serves as a comprehensive source of information for policymakers, advocates, members of the media, and others concerned with addressing the needs of children, families, and communities.

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2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book: Well-Being of U.S. Children Improves in Some Ways, Slips in Others

(June 2008) National trends in child well-being have improved slightly since 2000, according to the 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book. The 2008 Data Book also presents a clear path to reducing the number of children and youth in America’s justice system. The annual Data Book, published by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation with technical assistance from the Population Reference Bureau, ranks U.S. states according to 10 indicators of child well-being.

The 2008 edition, the 19th KIDS COUNT Data Book, shows that children’s lives have improved in five areas, signified by declines in the child death rate, teen death rate, teen birth rate, high school dropout rate, and the percentage of teens who are not in school and not working.

But it also reveals setbacks in four other areas, and a lack of improvement in another:

  • The rate of low birth-weight babies increased and is at its highest level in 40 years. Low birth weight is related to a number of long-term health problems for children and adults.
  • The infant mortality rate—also associated with low birth weight—has not improved since 2000, leaving the United States with one of the highest infant mortality rates of any developed country.
  • The percentage of children living in families where no parent has full-time year-round employment increased.
  • Poverty among children increased. More children are living in relative poverty in the United States than in any other economically advanced nation.
  • A greater share of children lived in single-parent families in 2006 than in 2000.
  • These national trends lag behind the well-being improvements that were seen at the end of the 1990s, with little change since 2000.

“KIDS COUNT contains some good and bad news,” says Laura Beavers, coordinator of the national KIDS COUNT project at the Casey Foundation. “We continue to see that well-being indicators have largely gotten better for teens, and they’ve gotten worse for babies. The percent of babies born at low birth weight continues to increase, with the 2005 rate the highest reported since 1968.” Looking across all well-being indicators, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Massachusetts rank highest, and New Mexico, Louisiana, and Mississippi rank the lowest.

This edition of the Data Book focused on the experience of U.S. children with the juvenile justice systems in each state, highlighting recent research and reforms that provide the basis for a fundamental, urgently needed transformation. In 2006, an estimated 92,854 youth were in the custody of juvenile justice facilities, with racial and ethnic minorities vastly overrepresented. Two out of three (66 percent) of all youth in custody were there due to a nonviolent offense.

“The state and federal government must take a much closer look at the problems that are entrenched in the juvenile justice system,” according to Douglas W. Nelson, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “These problems often include harsh or abusive conditions; pervasive disparities in the treatment of youth by race and ethnicity; and disproportionate sanctions for minor and predictable misbehavior. We know and there is evidence to prove that with effective interventions, system reforms, and more effective policies, the system can produce better outcomes for young people.” In his introductory essay, Nelson makes a case for keeping youth out of the adult justice system, reducing incarceration, ensuring safe institutions, and eliminating racially disparate treatment.

The KIDS COUNT Data Book with state-by-state rankings, supplemental data, and the essay, “A Road Map for Juvenile Justice Reform,” can be viewed online at www.kidscount.org/datacenter/databook.jsp.

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The Risk of Negative Child Outcomes in Low-Income Families

Product: Report

Authors: Mark Mather Dia Adams

Date: May 1, 2006

Project: KIDS COUNT

The child poverty rate has become one of the most widely used indicators of child well-being in the United States. Poverty thresholds are also used to determine eligibility for many federal, state, and local programs designed to benefit needy children and families. But a new PRB analysis of 2000 Census data suggests that poverty thresholds may not be the best way to determine eligibility for a needs-based program.

Written by Mark Mather, deputy director of domestic programs at the Population Reference Bureau, and Dia Adams, PRB research assistant, “The Risk of Negative Child Outcomes in Low-Income Families” finds a highly linear relationship between family income and several key dimensions of child well-being. These findings suggest that families might be better served by programs that provide assistance in proportion to income, with the most assistance going to children in the poorest families.

The report also finds that more than 25 million children (36 percent of all U.S. children) lived in families with yearly incomes of less than $35,000 in 1999—roughly twice the poverty threshold. In addition there are significant racial, ethnic, and geographic differences in the proportions of U.S. children residing in poor and low-income families as well as in the concentrations of negative child outcomes.

“The Risk of Negative Child Outcomes in Low-Income U.S. Families” is part of a series of reports on the 2000 Census prepared for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT project. KIDS COUNT is a national and state-by-state effort to track the status of children in the United States. For more information, visit the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT website at www.kidscount.org.