The 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book reports that although significant challenges remain, the overall trend for child well-being in the United States is positive. In this 23rd annual Data Book by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, researchers reviewed child well-being factors in the domains of education, economic well-being, health, and family and community. The Data Book shows positive trends in education over the past few years; percentagewise, more children are attending preschool, more fourth-graders are proficient in reading, more eighth-graders are proficient in math, and more high school students are graduating on time. However, economic well-being factors indicate that, in 2010, 16 percent more children were living in poverty compared to 2005, and 13 percent more teens were not in school and not working compared to 2008.
The Data Book indicates that significant gaps remain in educational achievement by race and income. “Although the achievement gap between black and white students has narrowed considerably over the past four decades, the achievement gap by income has steadily increased.” The gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low income students has grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s; making it double the testing gap between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites. The state in which a child lives strongly influences the child’s potential for success; the Data Book ranks the poorest states (located in the Southeast, Southwest, and Appalachia) as the lowest in terms of child-well being. The Data Book concludes that great progress has been made in some aspects of child well-being. “With the right investments, we can provide all families and children with the opportunity to reach their full potential and, in the process, strengthen our economy and our nation.”
A copy of the 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book, including child well-being rankings by state, is available at http://tinyurl.com/c7huk38.