Providing tools to assess the needs of Florida's children and their families.

Providing tools to assess the needs of Florida's children and their families.

Counting For Kids Blog

Welcome to the Florida KIDS COUNT Counting for Kids blog.

2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book

It is that time of the year again!  Today, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book – State Trends in Child Well-being. Guess what? Our ranking of 40th out of the 50 states did not change. At all.  Does that mean we didn’t accomplish anything this past year? No, but it means we still have much to do.

So, how did we do this year?

  • In the economic well-being domain, we ranked 45th, meaning we lost a bit of ground over the last year.  One of the drivers of this ranking is the number of children living in poverty.  In 2015, 23% of children or 932,000 children lived in poverty. This percentage hasn’t changed since 2010.  These children are living in poverty despite the fact that significantly more of their parents had secure employment and fewer were living in households where housing costs exceeded 30% of their family’s income.
  • In education, we had more young children in preschool than the national average (53%) and more fourth graders proficient in reading than in 2010.
  • In the health domain, we did improve our ranking from 47th to 44th.  Hooray! We had fewer low birthweight babies born, fewer teens who abused drugs or alcohol and we had significantly fewer uninsured children than we did in 2010.  This is an incredible improvement.
  • In the family and community domain, we held on to our ranking of 35th nationwide. As was true of economic well-being, there is good news, as fewer children are living in families where the head of household lacked a high school diploma, but there were significantly more children were living in impoverished neighborhoods in 2015 than was true in 2010.

So what do we do next year?

We must continue to fight child poverty.  We know that poverty is associated with slower brain development in young children, and long term effects including higher rates of teen pregnancy and school drop outs, among other poor outcomes. We also know that helping children out of poverty means we have to  help their parents earn a living wage, improve their educational status and ensure that they have access to healthcare and quality early childhood educational experiences for their children. We know that investing in children and families in the short run has an incredible return on investment to our communities over the long term.

So what do we do now?

Let’s not allow any backsliding on any indicator.  We are making gains in insuring kids and we need to keep increasing these numbers. How about reading? To increase reading proficiency among our third graders, we need to start well before those children enter kindergarten.  To do so, we need to ensure our youngest children get quality early childhood experiences. We need to engage their families to be the first teachers and ensure those families can provide proper nutrition to help their physical and emotional development.  Read more about policy options that address child wellbeing at the links below. In addition, over the next month we will highlight findings from the report on Facebook and Twitter.  In July, we will launch an index for Florida’s counties that mirrors Casey’s state rankings, so that you can talk with your state and local policy makers about what we can do to make life better for Florida’s children. So meet me back here at www.floridakidscount.org.

 

Florida Child Well-Being Index
Advisory Council