The 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book released last week details how children are faring in the United States and in each state based on thee most recent data on key trends in child well-being prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The KIDS COUNT index captures what children need most to thrive, using four domains: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health and (4) Family and Community. Each domain includes four indicators, for a total of 16.
The 2020 Data Book state ranking indicates that New England states hold two of the top three spots (and five of the top ten spots) in overall child well-being with Massachusetts ranking first, followed by New Hampshire and Minnesota. Louisiana (48th), Mississippi (49th) and New Mexico (50th) are the three lowest-ranked states.
New Jersey holds the top spot in the education domain, followed by Massachusetts and Connecticut. And surprisingly, the District of Columbia has the nation’s highest preschool participation rate, as a result of the city’s free, universal preschool for 3-and 4-year-olds.
In the category of health, low birth weight babies represented 8.3 percent of all live births nationally. A total of 4.1 million children (5%) under the age f 18 lacked health insurance in 2018. In the family and community category, 35 percent of children (24 million) lived in single parent families with the state of Utah with the lowest rate at 19% and Louisiana with the highest rate at 46 percent.
The Data Book also shines a light on racial inequities in child well-being indicating that African American, American Indian and Latino children face steep barriers to opportunities and success. Black children were more likely to live in single-parent families and high-poverty areas; Latino kids were at greatest risk of not going to school at a young age; and American Indian kids were nearly three times more likely to be uninsured.
The 2020 KIDS COUNT Data Book may be accessed at www.aecf.org/databook.