Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kids Count report shows where children in your county and school district rank, in a huge number of measures

Conditions have improved slightly for Kentucky children, especially in education and health, and the state's overall well-being ranking has gone up one spot, from 35th to 34th in the nation. But economic conditions for young Kentuckians have slipped since last year, says the Kids Count report released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The annual report measures how the country and its 50 states are doing according to four measures of child well-being – education, health, economic well-being, and family and community. How well Kentucky's children score in each domain paints a picture of Kentucky's future.

One of the many data sets available by county and school district
The report includes a wide range of data for every county and school district. The data include current and five-year rates of child poverty; median family income and median household income; infant mortality rate; child death rate; teen death rate; child abuse and neglect cases; foster care cases; births to mothers who are teenagers, who smoke, who are not high-school graduates, and who get early and regular prenatal care; pre-term births; low-weight births; newborns breastfed when they leave the hospital; early childhood obesity, number and percentage of child-support collections; asthma hospitalizations; recreational facilities; number and percentage of children receiving food stamps, Medicaid, child-care subsidies, Supplemental Security Income, and benefits from the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program; the number and percentage eligible for reduced-price meals at school; the number and percentage in publicly funded preschool; the hourly wage needed to pay fair-market rent and the percentage of renters unable to afford such rent; juvenile justice data; percentage of students ready for college and careers; and the six-year college graduation rate.

Statewide, the report shows that Kentucky has made gains in education, and the state ranks 28th on this measure. Since 2005, more children are attending preschool, more fourth-graders are proficient in reading and more eighth-graders are proficient in math, says the report.

Kentucky has also improved in many health measures. There are fewer low birth-weight babies, fewer children without health insurance and fewer teens who abuse alcohol or drugs. Medical coverage should only continue to improve as the state expands Medicaid coverage to households at 138 percent of the poverty line. However, youth advocates say gains in education and health may not be maintained if more children continue to live in poverty.

Unfortunately, Kentucky children continue to struggle economically, weighing in at 32nd in the nation. The report says 37 percent of Kentucky children have parents who lack stable employment, up from 33 percent last year, and 32 percent of children live in households that are burdened by housing costs, up from 27 percent.

The state's lowest ranking is 38th, on the family and community measure. Its constituents: More than 27 percent of children live below the poverty line, compared to the national average of 23 percent, and the number of children in single-parent families has increased from 31 percent in 2006 to 36 percent in 2011. On the bright side, teen births declined during that period.

With the hard work of child advocates, community agencies, educators and policymakers, the report shows progress has been made to improve children's well-being, but there is still much to be done. Click here for Kentucky's profile or here to go to the data center.

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