2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book

2021 State Trends in Child Well-Being

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

June 21, 2021

Summary

The 32nd edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT® Data Book describes how children across the United States were faring before — and during — the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s publication continues to deliver the Foundation’s annual state rankings and the latest available data on child well-being. It identifies multiyear trends — comparing statistics from 2010 to 2019. In addition, the report shares data on how families endured throughout the pandemic.

How Kids and Families Have Weathered the Pandemic

Every child needs food, health care and safe and stable housing. Millions of households with children already lacked these necessities before the pandemic, and this economic and public health catastrophe brought millions more face-to-face with challenges ranging from lost health insurance and bare pantries to the threat of homelessness due to eviction or foreclosure.

An additional area of concern: Students are completing a second academic year disrupted by COVID-19, undermining academic performance and altering post-high school plans.

Recommendations for Recovery

The nation will not recover from this crisis without innovative public policy. Several of the Foundation’s federal policy recommendations have already been enacted through the 2020 CARES Act and with 2021's American Rescue Plan. Of particular note is the historic expansion of the federal child tax credit, which is expected to cut the child poverty rate by more than half. Unfortunately, the expansion is currently slated for only one year.

To continue progress already made on recovery, the Foundation recommends: making the expansion of the federal child tax credit permanent; strengthening state and local policies affecting kids and families; and prioritizing racial and ethnic equity in policymaking.

State Rankings

This year, New England states hold two of the top three spots for overall child well-being. Massachusetts ranks first, followed by New Hampshire and Minnesota. Louisiana (48th), Mississippi (49th) and New Mexico (50th) are the three lowest-ranked states.

States in Appalachia, as well as the Southeast and Southwest — where families have the lowest levels of household income — populate the bottom of the overall rankings. In fact, except for Alaska, the 17 lowest-ranked states are in these regions.

Racial Inequities in Child Well-Being

Despite gains for children of all races and income levels during the reporting period, the nation’s racial inequities remain deep, systemic and stubbornly persistent. Data suggest that we as a nation fail to provide children of color with the opportunities and support they need to thrive. States are failing to dismantle barriers that African American, American Indian and Latino children especially encounter. As a result, nearly all index measures show that children experience disparate outcomes in spite of their potential.

In 14 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, kids of color were the majority of the child population in 2019. The future success of our nation depends on our ability to ensure all children have the chance to be successful.

2021 State Data Profiles on Kids' Well-Being

View the national data profile (also available in Spanish) or download your state's data profile as a PDF below:

Trends and Overall Child Well-Being

The Foundation derives a composite index of overall child well-being for each state by combining data across four domains: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health and (4) Family and Community. These composite scores are then translated into a state ranking for child well-being. Explore overall child well-being on the interactive KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Economic Well-Being

To help children grow into prepared, productive adults, parents need jobs with family-sustaining pay, affordable housing and the ability to invest in their children’s future. Explore economic well-being data on the interactive KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Education

The early years of children’s lives set the foundation for their lifelong success. Closing significant academic achievement gaps is vital to ensuring that the nation’s future workforce can continue to compete on a global scale. Explore education data on the interactive KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Health

Good health is central to a child’s overall development, and ensuring that kids are born healthy is an important first step toward lifelong success. Explore health data on the interactive KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Family and Community

Children who live in nurturing families and supportive communities have stronger personal connections and realize higher academic achievements. Explore Family and Community data on the interactive KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Additional Resources on Child Well-Being

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