From Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children (http://paprom.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=index):
Overall improvements in child well-being that began in the late 1990s stalled in the years leading up to the current economic downturn, a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds.
This year’s KIDS COUNT Data Book (60 pages, PDF; http://www.aecf.org/~/media/Pubs/Initiatives/KIDS%20COUNT/123/2010KidsCountDataBook/AEC197_book_final3.pdf) found that the 2008 child poverty rate topped 18 percent, which means the number of children living in poverty grew by a million between 2000 and 2008. Moreover, when more up-to-date Census data is released later this year, the child poverty rate is expected to climb past 20 percent. The report also found that child well-being worsened in three areas — the percentage of low-birth-weight babies born, the percentage of children living in single-parent families, and the child poverty rate — and that it improved in five areas, namely infant mortality, child deaths, teen deaths, teen births, and the percentage of teens not in school and not high school graduates.
Looking across all child well-being indicators, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Vermont ranked at the top of the list among the fifty states, while Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi ranked at the bottom. The states recording the biggest improvement in their rankings between 2000 and 2007 (health data) and 2000 and 2008 (economic data) were New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, Oregon, and Wyoming. The states with the biggest drop in their rankings were Montana, South Dakota, Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii. Pennsylvania’s overall rank was 23.
Based on the report’s findings, the Casey Foundation recommends that the federal government take steps to improve the collection of data on the nation’s children, including enhancing the National Survey of Children’s Health, which was last conducted in 2007 and is not scheduled again until 2011; adopting a supplemental poverty measure that captures non-cash benefits such as food stamps and child care to better understand how children are faring; increasing the sample size of the American Community Survey to include urban neighborhoods and sparsely populated rural communities; and addressing problems within the Vital Statistics System, which over the past few years have resulted in significant gaps and delays in compiling key data on health.
“Our KIDS COUNT project has made significant strides in tracking results and compiling data on children and families during the past two decades,” said Casey Foundation president and CEO Patrick T. McCarthy. “But the reality is that we can only go so far without needed improvements to our data collection systems. None of us has a good grasp on the conditions facing America’s children because state and federal agencies collect data too infrequently and often do not measure what really matters for kids.”
Available information includes 10 Key Indicators of child well-being, which includes percentage of low-birthweight babies; infant mortality rate; child death rate; teen death rate; teen birth rate; percentage of teens not in school and not high school graduates; percentage of teens not attending high school and not working; percentage of children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment; percentage of children in poverty; and percentage of children in single-parent families. The complete report is available on the Annie E. Casey Foundation (pdf) website at http://www.aecf.org/~/media/Pubs/Initiatives/KIDS%20COUNT/123/2010KidsCountDataBook/AEC197_book_final3.pdf.