Skip to site content

Overall Well-Being of U.S. Kids Sees Uneven Improvement

The overall well-being of children living is the U.S. has improved since 2015, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s (AECF) 2018 Kids Count Data Book released in late June.

The annual report assesses the well-being of U.S. kids by looking at 16 indicators in four categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

The 2018 report evaluated data from 2016, finding improvement from 2015 (evaluated in the 2017 report) in nine of 16 indicators, with two areas seeing decline and five remaining the same.

“Overall, the positive strides in some areas of child well-being, driven by effective policies and continued improvements in the economy, provide encouragement that the nation can advance the substantial work needed to improve the prospects of the next generation,” the report said.

All four economic well-being indicators improved.

The number of children living in poverty declined to more than 14.1 million (2016) from 15 million (2015), while children of parents lacking secure employment dropped 671,000 to nearly 20.7 million.

Kids in households with a high housing cost burden declined to more than 23.5 million (2016) from more than 24.6 million (2015), while the number of teens not in school and not working dropped by 15,000 to more than 1.1 million.

The education indicators saw mixed results.

The number of children aged 3-4 not enrolled in early childhood education programs declined by 88,000 from 2015 to 2016, which reduced the percentage back to 2009-11 levels (52 percent).

One of the other three indicators remained unchanged from 2015 to 2016, while two improved slightly by 1 percent.

Health measurements were also uneven, seeing a decline in the number of uninsured children and in teens abusing alcohol, but an increase in the number of low-weight babies at birth and in the number of minor deaths per 100,000.

All four family and community data points saw improvement from 2015, but only two of the four were better than 2009-10.

“National data mask a great deal of state and regional variations in child well-being,” AECF noted. “A child’s chances of thriving depend not only on individual, family and community characteristics but also on the state in which she or he is born and raised.”

The full report is available here.

Editor’s note: An EthicsDaily.com news brief on the 2017 Kids Count Data Book is available here.