By Journal Staff
The Annie E. Casey Foundationâ€™s 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals both positive and negative trends for our nationâ€™s kids with continued erosion of economic well-being here in Idaho.
The Data Book assesses states on 16 indicators of child well-being, organized into four categories: Family and Community, Education, Economic Well-Being, and Health. Idaho ranks 21st in overall â€” a one-spot drop from last year. .
Idaho continues to slide in its national educational rankings, falling to 33rd overall from 29th last year. Idaho has dropped seven spots to 33rd in fourth grade reading scores with 67 percent reading below proficient reading level. It ranks 47th nationally for preschool participation with 65 percent of Idaho’s 3-to-4 year-olds not attending. This near last-place ranking in preschool participation is especially alarming for Idahoâ€™s future, according to Idaho KIDS COUNT Director Lauren Necochea.
â€śIf we can get kids off to a strong start, they will enter school better prepared to learn,â€ť Necochea said. â€śWe know that the benefits of early learning translate to more success in school and later in life. When our youngest students fall behind early, it becomes more and more difficult for them to catch up.â€ť
Idaho ranks highest in the Family and Community domain, coming in at 11th position overall. Despite an increase in the percentage of kids living in single-parent families from 23 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2012, Idaho ranks second for this indicator.
Nationwide, 35 percent of kids live in one-parent homes. Idaho has also experienced a positive trend with teen births, which have declined significantly since 2005.
Idahoâ€™s children and families continue to struggle in economic areas, with worsening trends in every indicator measured.
The rate of children living in poverty rose from 18 percent in 2005 to 21 percent in 2012 with 87,000 Idaho kids now living in poverty. Additionally, in 2012, 120,000 Idaho children, or 28 percent, lived in families where neither parent had secure, full-time employment.
Idaho made its greatest strides in the health domain, where the state leaped eight spots to 20th nationally. Idaho made large gains in the percentage of children covered by health insurance, although the state still ranks 34th on this indicator. Idahoâ€™s rate of teen drug and alcohol use continues to be among the nationâ€™s lowest at 6 percent.
The report includes the latest data on child well-being for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation. This information is available at the KIDS Count website, http://datacenter.kidscount.org. The site also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of other measures of child well-being. The Data Center allows users to create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and to view real-time information on mobile devices.
By Journal Staff