Last week, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2021 Kids Count Data Book. This annual report with state rankings presents a comprehensive picture of child well-being before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. It identifies multi-year trends — comparing statistics from 2010 to 2019. In addition, the report shares data on how families endured throughout the pandemic. The report is accompanied by state data profiles for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
National data from surveys across 16 key indicators of child well-being domain illustrates the challenges households experienced during the pandemic in 2020. In 2019, the latest year for which the national estimate is available, 12 million kids (17%) lived in poverty. The pandemic brought on dire economic circumstances for millions of people, some of whom were already living in poverty and others who found themselves struggling in new ways. 4.4 million children (6%) lacked health insurance, the first-rate increase in a decade, and that was before the pandemic hit.
Survey data during the pandemic in 2020 revealed that more than one in eight adults with children in the household (13%) lacked health insurance. However, by March 2021, this figure had fallen to 11%, suggesting the beginnings of a recovery. In addition, more than one in five households with children (22%) said they had only slight confidence or no confidence that they would be able to make their next rent or mortgage payment on time. However, by March 2021, this figure had fallen to 18%, also reflecting positive momentum.
The 2021 Data Book state ranking indicated that New England states, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire (again) hold two of the top three spots in overall child well-being rankings. Thirteen states (AL, AR, AZ, GA, KY, LA, MS, NM, NV, OK, SC, TX, WV), all in the South or West, landed in the bottom 20 in those rankings and also appeared among the worst-performing states in most or all of the pandemic indicators reviewed by this Data Book.
The 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book may be accessed here.