National Trends in the United States of America – Since 1990, KIDS COUNT has ranked states annually on overall child well-being using an index of key indicators. The KIDS COUNT index uses four domains to capture what children need most to thrive: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health and (4) Family and Community. Each domain includes four indicators, for a total of 16. These indicators represent the best available data to measure the status of child well-being at the state and national levels. This information was researched and first published by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. (For a more thorough description of the KIDS COUNT index, visit www.aecf.org/resources/the-new-kids-count-index.) This year’s Data Book presents current data and multiyear trends, which — whenever possible — compare data from 2010 with those from 2016, the most recent year available for most indicators. These data allow the Foundation to assess how the country’s children have fared during the economic recovery experienced after the Great Recession. State Rankings focus only on the most recent data.
NATIONAL TRENDS IN CHILD WELL-BEING
Data over a recent period of six or so years reveals positive and negative developments in child well-being nationally (see pages 16 and 17). Broadly speaking, children experienced gains in the Economic Well-Being domain, but saw mixed results in the Health, Education and Family and Community domains.
All four Economic Well-Being indicators improved during the recovery. Fewer children were living in poverty, more parents were employed and fewer families were spending a disproportionate amount of their income on housing costs. Nonetheless, in 2016, one in five children lived in poverty as reported in the national trends. In 2016, the national unemployment rate was 4.9 percent; it has since declined to 3.9 percent.
Improving Financial Stability of Families
Given this change in unemployment — one of the key factors to improving the financial stability of families — the Foundation expects to see ongoing progress in this area. Meanwhile, two of the four Education indicators — fourth-grade reading proficiency and high school graduation — showed some improvement. Notably, with 84 percent of high school students graduating on time in the 2015–16 school year, the nation’s graduation rate reached an all-time high. The Health domain largely remained unchanged children lacked access to coverage in 2016 than before the recession. The Foundation attributes this precipitous drop in the number of uninsured kids to expanded public health coverage.
National Trends Family and Community
Trends in the Family and Community domain were mixed. The teen birth rate continued its decline, reaching a new low. And a smaller percentage of children were living with parents who lack a high school diploma. However, the percentage of children living in single-parent families, who tend to have fewer resources, was higher in 2016 than in 2010.
Growing Up in High-Poverty Neighborhoods
Especially troubling is the number of kids growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods. The neighborhoods declined compared with last year’s measure — the first decrease since the recession began — 13 percent of the nation’s children continued to live in communities where poverty rates were at or above 30 percent in 2012–16.
Key Indicators of Child Well-Being
16 STATE TRENDS IN CHILD WELL-BEING NATIONAL TRENDS – Key Indicators of Child Well-Being by Domain
CHILDREN IN POVERTY
YOUNG CHILDREN (AGES 3 AND 4) NOT IN SCHOOL
CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS LACK SECURE EMPLOYMENT
FOURTH-GRADERS NOT PROFICIENT IN READING
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS NOT GRADUATING ON TIME
TEENS NOT IN SCHOOL AND NOT WORKING
EIGHTH-GRADERS NOT PROFICIENT IN MATH
CHILDREN LIVING IN A HOUSEHOLD WITH A HIGH HOUSING COST BURDEN
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Hope for Children Foundation