The KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual publication that assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states. The 2006 report begins with an essay, "Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care: Strengthening a Critical Resource to Help Young Children Succeed." The essay makes a strong case for improving the quality of this type of care given its frequent use, especially among low-income families. Providers need far more training and support than they currently receive. Technical assistance, better integration with other community child care providers, greater financial support from state and local governments as well as higher standards would go a long way toward raising the quality of family, friend and neighbor care. Given the critical role of the early years in healthy child development, the essay argues that addressing these issues should be a critical priority.
The remainder of the report provides national and state data on 10 indicators that reflect a range of factors affecting child well-being, particularly health, adequacy of income, and educational attainment. Based on a composite index of the 10 indicators, the three highest ranked states for overall child-being were New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut; the three lowest ranked states were Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico. Across the 10 indicators, there was little change in child well-being at the national level since 2000.