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Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Book shows great improvements in education, health

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has just released the 25th edition of its annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, offering a promising outlook of overall child well- being across the nation. However, it also reveals the remaining areas of concern, particularly for children living in low-income families and high-poverty communities. The publication holistically assesses child well-being in all 50 states and ranks them according to levels of children’s economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. It also measures national trends, comparing current data to that since 1990, when the first KIDS COUNT report was released.

For 2014, three New England states rank within the top five for overall child well-being, while three southwestern states are in the bottom five overall. The 2014 top three highest-ranked states were Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa, while the lowest-ranked were Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi. See how your state ranks on the KIDS COUNT Index.

There has been great progress in the areas of education and health, as proven by higher preschool attendance, increased proficiency in math and reading skills, higher school graduation rates, increased access to health insurance coverage, and drops in child and teen mortality and substance abuse since 2005.

Various demographic, social, economic, and political developments and changes have impacted the well-being of low-income children, both positively and negatively. According to the report, the nation’s child population grew from 64 million to 74 million between 1990 and 2012 and greatly shifted its racial and ethnic composition. The dominant challenge the report stressed, is to compensate for these changes and the increasing inequality in income and wealth, in order to ensure that children of all backgrounds have the brightest future possible.

While also celebrating the commendable progress, the Foundation President and CEO Patrick McCarthy motivates people of all sectors to intensify their dedication to this issue. “We should strengthen our commitment and redouble our efforts until every child in America develops full potential. We simply cannot afford to endanger the futures of the millions of low-income children who don’t have the chance to experience high-quality early childhood programs and the thriving neighborhoods that higher-income families take for granted,” said McCarthy.

To see more of the trends, specific to each state and data topic, check out the KIDS COUNT Data Center.