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.

Florida Child Well-Being Index

2017 Florida Child Well-being IndexFlorida County Child Well-being Index helps answer where counties can focus
to make life better for our states' children and families

Click to view the 2017 Florida County Index

Everyone is familiar with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual ranking of states, right?  This index uses 16 indicators of child well-being categorized into four categories: 

  1. Economic Well-Being
  2. Education
  3. Health, and
  4. Family and Community

Each year publicly available data are used to compare the 50 states and provide relative rankings each summer.  (To jog your memory, read our blog below on the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book or visit http://www.aecf.org/resources/2017-kids-count-data-book/national-and-state-data-profiles/ to see Florida’s profile).

This is the most popular and well known ranking we know of.  People love it because it is easy to understand and it uses concepts that resonate with our ideas of child well-being, like graduation rates and parental employment. It also keeps us asking questions like,  ‘What do we need to do to make life better for Florida’s children and families?’ and 'Which county ranks #1? How are they doing it'?

So we asked ourselves, why can’t we do that with Florida’s counties?  We consulted with KIDS COUNT colleagues in other states who have tried this.  Then we had a few issues to tackle, like figuring out a fair way to compare counties as diverse as Florida’s in terms of demographics, in its mix of rural, suburban and urban, and in population sizes. So we converted them to ratios and chose indicators where ‘lower is better’ for all 16. (Check out our YouTube channel for a detailed discussion of methodology and measures.)

Once we figured out a way to do that mathematically, we had to tackle two more issues:

  1. We had to find indicators that were the same as or similar to Casey’s and available at the county level (not always easy), and,
  2. We had to use the same measure at two time points so we can show trends over five years (we were mostly successful).

We were able to use many of the same indicators the Casey index relies on to produce the state index, but put our Florida fingerprint on it by substituting some indicators from state data sources. In the end, we wound up using the following indicators in each of the four categories. The asterisk shows which indicators differ from those included in the Annie E. Casey index because either there was more current data available at the state level or because the indicator was not available at the county level.

Economic Well-Being

  • Children Under 18 Who Live in Poverty
  • County Unemployment Rate*
  • High Housing Cost Burden
  • Teens Not in School and Not Working

Education

  • Students Not Ready for Kindergarten*
  • Fourth graders Not Proficient in Reading*
  • Eighth Graders Not Proficient in Math*
  • Students Not Graduating from High School on Time*

Health

  • Low Birthweight Babies*
  • Children without Health Insurance
  • Overweight and Obese Students*
  • Teens who used Alcohol or Drugs in the Prior 30 days*

 Family and Community

  • Children in Single Parent Families
  • Children Living in High Poverty Areas
  • Children with Verified Child Maltreatment*
  • Youth with Juvenile Justice Contacts*

* These indicators are unique to the Florida version of the Index and are not used in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s state rankings.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to share the Florida Child Well-Being Index online and we will talk about counties and how their children are faring. I hope you will keep an eye out for our Facebook and Twitter posts. We ask that you also join the conversation on Twitter at #WWITFL where we again ask you to consider ‘What Would It Take Florida?’ for each county to rank #1.  

If we give a shout out about the #FLKids in your county, please answer back and tell us what is making a difference for your county and what we can learn from you.

Most importantly, in the spirit that the Annie E. Casey Foundation intended, use these data to tell your state legislator**, your school board and your county or city commission or mayor how the children are doing. Let people know what we can do better for all of Florida’s kids and we know what works:

– support families to get better job skills and education,

– ensure access to quality healthcare and early childhood education

– support prevention programs beginning with prenatal mothers

Additional Resources

2017 Race for Results Policy Report
2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book