The Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual publication, The KIDS COUNT 2015 Data Book, collects data from all 50 states and uses it to evaluate how kids across the U.S. are faring in terms of their health, education, economic well-being, and family and community. The just-released 2015 report shows that although some gains have been made, there are still many areas for concern—particularly for children of color.
One of the most concerning things highlighted in the data is the number of children living in areas of high and concentrated poverty. In 2006, 11% of children lived in high-poverty areas, and now that number has jumped to 14%. Not only does living in these areas signify problems with children's economic well-being, but it also can affect the quality of the educational opportunities and resources available to them, such as preschool programs and adequate school funding. The overall amount of children living in poverty has also worsened, raising from 18% to 22%. Both of these statistics indicate there is still a lot of work to be done to support low-income children and families and to provide them with pathways out of poverty.
Another deep and continual problem is the long-standing discrepancy between children of color and white children in almost every area. Although there are some exceptions, such as the fact that African-American children were more likely to have health insurance, the report still found significant and problematic gaps. As it says:
"On many indicators, children of color continued to face steep barriers to success. African-American children were twice as likely as the average child to live in high-poverty neighborhoods and to live in single-parent families. American Indian children were twice as likely to lack health insurance coverage, and Latino children were the most likely to live with a household head who does not have a high school diploma."
To address these issues, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation recommends a two-pronged approach that targets both children and their parents and other adult family members. While kids receive supports like high-quality early education and strong, well-funded public schools, the adults supporting them should gain access to things like paid sick leave, a fair minimum wage, and greater access to more stable and better paying jobs.
The report provides necessary statistics to help see whether and how we are making improvements in the lives of our nation's children—and it's also an essential resource in advocating for them. You can read the full report here or see how your state is doing here. And be sure to join in the conversation about it on Twitter with #DataBook!