The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released the 2013 edition of Kids Count, a comprehensive index that measures child well-being at the state and national levels. Kids Count looks at education, health, economic security, and overall well-being. It’s a report card focused on how kids are doing across the US.
Kids Count then takes the numbers and crunches them on a state-by-state basis, so you can see how your state measures up. According to Kids Count, the best place for kids right now is New Hampshire.
Rounding out the top five, according to the Kids Count index: Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey
The bottom five: Louisiana, Arizona, Nevada, Mississippi, and New Mexico.
You can check out Kids Count here, and see how your state fared.
The good news, overall? Our kids are doing a little bit better. More are graduating from high school. They’re a little healthier: fewer babies are being born with low birthweight, and teen substance abuse is down.
The bad? Far too many kids live in poverty – that’s an income below $22,811 for a family of four. And the number of kids living in poverty has grown. The poverty rate went up to 23%, and for very young children under 3, it’s now up to 26%. During those key baby and toddler years, lots of families in the US are struggling.
The very bad? While, despite all the news about our failing schools, kids are doing better in math and reading. The report notes that, “the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students in the United States has grown about 40% since the 1960s, even as the racial gap has narrowed.”
What can we do about this?
Ensure all kids, regardless of family income, have access to a high-quality preschool so that kids enter school ready to learn. Advocate for stronger schools across the country. Support enrichment programs, like arts and music, that keep kids engaged and excited about school, and teach them, too.
Want to learn more?
Look at Zero to Three, a national group that provides information about the very early years, and advocates for more support. Consider signing on with Moms Rising, a group that advocates for a more family-friendly America and policies that support kids. Or, check out the information available on Take Part’s Education site.