The 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being

June 27, 2018

The Data Book Looks at Trends in Child Well-Being During a Period That Saw Continued Improvement in Economic Well-Being But Mixed Results in the Areas Of Health, Education and Family and Community Factors

Patrick McCarthy, President and CEO, Annie E. Casey Foundation

(Baltimore, MD, Wednesday, June 27, 2018) – The Annie E. Casey Foundation is warning policymakers and child advocates of troubling consequences for the nation’s kids with the likely undercount of about 1 million children under five in the 2020 census.

The Foundation is releasing the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book, its annual look at child well-being in the United States, on Wednesday, June 27, 2018.

The Data Book ranks how each state is doing, and in this year’s release, the top three states overall for child well-being are: New Hampshire (1), Massachusetts (2) and New Jersey (3). The three states with the lowest overall child well-being rankings are Mississippi (48), Louisiana (49) and New Mexico (50).

In this year’s Data Book, the Foundation noted that about 4.5 million young children live in neighborhoods where there’s a high risk of missing kids in the count.

An undercount of young children in the upcoming decennial census would shortchange child well-being over the next decade by putting at risk hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding for programs that are critical to family stability and opportunity.

If missed in the national count, children of color, low-income children and children in immigrant families stand to suffer the most if vital programs face reductions in funding. Research shows that by 2020 the majority of children in the United States will be children of color.

The Data Book draws from numerous sources to focus on key trends in the post-recession years. It measures child well-being in four areas: economic, education, health & family and community.

Roughly 300 federal programs use census-derived data to allocate more than $800 billion a year. However, census outreach efforts face daunting challenges: a lack of leadership, the first-ever digital survey, and the potential of suppressed participation due to a citizenship question. The undercount of young children has worsened with every census since 1980. The 2010 survey had the worst undercount since 1950, with nearly five percent of children under five — about 1 million kids — not counted.  

The nation saw the teen birth rate drop between 2010 and 2016 to its lowest level ever.

The nation’s graduation rate is at an all-time high with 84 percent of high school students graduating on time.

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