Child Well-Being in the U.S.

With school out and kids all over the country on summer break, it is a great time to focus on the condition of our young people. For our users interested in the status of child well-being in the United States, you may have already heard about Annie E. Casey Foundation’s recent release of the Data Book. The Data Book, an annual publication of the Foundation’s KIDS COUNT initiative, tracks state trends in child well-being. This year’s Data Book revealed mixed results. The authors found that while children have made gains in health and economic well-being, the educational well-being of our young people has experienced a setback.  In fact, the percent of young children not enrolled in pre-K has grown to 53%.

The Data Book’s authors examine trends of 16 indicators pertaining to economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. To look at geographic trends, some of these indicators can be viewed spatially on PolicyMap. The map below, using data from the Census’ Small Area Health Insurance Estimates, shows the percent of people under the age of 18 without health insurance in 2011-2015.  In many counties, more than one-tenth of young people are living without health insurance.

Other child well-being indicators on PolicyMap include the percent of young people living in poverty, students receiving Free and Reduced Price lunch (both in the Money & Income tab), child obesity (in the Health tab), as well as a host of education data in the Education tab. Keep your eyes out for an exciting blog entry about GreatSchools school performance data next week!

And lastly, when considering the status of child well-being, it is worth keeping in mind how kids in the United States fair in comparison to other countries. According to a recent study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which ranked 29 economically advanced countries using five dimensions of indicators, the U.S. was ranked 26 out of 29 in overall child well-being. Clearly, there are still gains to be made in ensuring prosperity for our young people.