Child Poverty Still on the Rise, but Outlook for Children Better in Education and Health

Posted June 24, 2013
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Newsrelease databook 2013

Grad­ual eco­nom­ic recov­ery presents nation­al oppor­tu­ni­ty to refo­cus on invest­ments in ear­ly child­hood development

As the nation’s econ­o­my recov­ers, America’s chil­dren are show­ing some signs of improve­ment despite an ever-grow­ing pover­ty rate, accord­ing to new data in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Chil­dren con­tin­ue to progress in the areas of edu­ca­tion and health. From rough­ly 2005 to 2011, the teen birth rate dropped by 15% to a his­toric low. The rate of high school stu­dents not grad­u­at­ing in four years saw an almost 20% decline, as did the child and teen death rate. The per­cent­age of chil­dren with­out health insur­ance decreased by 30%.

Although the eco­nom­ic well-being of the nation’s chil­dren improved slight­ly from 2010 to 2011, the neg­a­tive impact of the reces­sion remains evi­dent. In 2011, the child pover­ty rate stood at 23%, or 16.4 mil­lion chil­dren — an increase of 3 mil­lion since 2005. The num­ber of chil­dren liv­ing in house­holds spend­ing more than 30% of their income on hous­ing — more than 29 mil­lion in 2011 — saw minor improve­ment from the pre­vi­ous year, but was still about 2 mil­lion more than in 2005. Sim­i­lar­ly, the num­ber of chil­dren whose par­ents lacked full-time, year-round employ­ment was near­ly 20% high­er than in 2008.

The 2013 Data Book also exam­ines how America’s youngest chil­dren are far­ing, adding to the ongo­ing nation­al con­ver­sa­tion on ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion. In par­tic­u­lar, younger chil­dren are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect­ed by the lin­ger­ing effects of the reces­sion: The pover­ty rate among chil­dren younger than 3 is 26%; among 3- to 5‑year-olds, it is 25% — high­er than the nation­al aver­age for all kids.

Chil­dren are our nation’s most pre­cious resource, as well as our future lead­ers, employ­ees, cit­i­zens and par­ents,” said Patrick McCarthy, the Foundation’s pres­i­dent and CEO. The ear­ly years of their lives are a crit­i­cal junc­ture in their devel­op­ment. As our eco­nom­ic recov­ery con­tin­ues, we can­not lose sight of doing what­ev­er it takes to help kids, par­tic­u­lar­ly kids in low-income fam­i­lies, reach their full poten­tial — and that includes lay­ing a sol­id foun­da­tion from the moment they are born.”

Also new to this year’s Data Book are sta­tis­tics on mul­tira­cial chil­dren, a rapid­ly grow­ing pop­u­la­tion. These data indi­cate that while deep dis­par­i­ties per­sist for African-Amer­i­can, Lati­no and Amer­i­can Indi­an chil­dren rel­a­tive to their white and Asian and Pacif­ic Islander coun­ter­parts, mul­tira­cial kids are gen­er­al­ly far­ing bet­ter than or as well as the over­all pop­u­la­tion — with a few excep­tions: More mul­tira­cial chil­dren (42%) find them­selves in sin­gle-par­ent fam­i­lies com­pared to kids over­all (35%), and 37% have par­ents with­out full-time, year-round employ­ment, com­pared to 32% in the gen­er­al population.

At the state lev­el, New Hamp­shire, Ver­mont and Mass­a­chu­setts rank high­est for over­all child well-being, while Neva­da, Mis­sis­sip­pi and New Mex­i­co rank low­est. Oth­er state highlights:

  • For the first time in the Data Books 24-year his­to­ry, Mis­sis­sip­pi moved out of the No. 50 spot for child well-being, now occu­pied by New Mex­i­co. While the two states remain fair­ly even, Mis­sis­sip­pi per­formed bet­ter in a few areas, such as the num­ber of chil­dren not attend­ing preschool and those whose par­ents lack a high school diploma.
  • Three south­west­ern states — Ari­zona, Neva­da and New Mex­i­co — are now in the bot­tom five for the over­all rankings.
  • The num­ber of chil­dren in high-pover­ty neigh­bor­hoods con­tin­ued to climb in 40 states and varies wide­ly, from a frac­tion of a per­cent in Wyoming to 24% in Mississippi.
  • Forty-six states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia saw improve­ments in math pro­fi­cien­cy, but a con­sid­er­able gap lies between Mass­a­chu­setts, with 49%of its eighth-graders not pro­fi­cient in the sub­ject, and Mis­sis­sip­pi, with 81%.

The progress we’re see­ing in child health and edu­ca­tion is encour­ag­ing, but the eco­nom­ic data clear­ly speak to the con­sid­er­able chal­lenges we still face,” said Lau­ra Speer, the Casey Foundation’s asso­ciate direc­tor for pol­i­cy reform and data. We need to do bet­ter and be smarter about invest­ing in effec­tive pro­grams and ser­vices to help ensure all kids get the best pos­si­ble start in life.”

The KIDS COUNT Data Book fea­tures the lat­est data on child well-being for every state, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and the nation. This infor­ma­tion is avail­able in the new­ly redesigned KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter, which also con­tains the most recent nation­al, state and local data on hun­dreds of mea­sures of child well-being. Data Cen­ter users can cre­ate rank­ings, maps and graphs for use in pub­li­ca­tions and on web­sites, and view real-time infor­ma­tion on mobile devices.

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