KIDS COUNT indicators: Academics and health up, economic security down for America’s kids
In recent years, America’s children are largely better educated and healthier, but less economically secure, according to the just-released 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book from our partner the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The improvement in education indicators is heartening. Despite the huge criticism the education system has endured over the past few years, reading and math scores are up, as are high school graduation rates. But troubling racial disparities in outcomes remain.
As for health, the Data Book reports that the number of children with health insurance has increased. So while employer-provided coverage has dropped, public coverage for children has more than filled the gap. It should be noted that the health reform law has helped by ending policies on “pre-existing conditions,” ending lifetime caps on benefits, and allowing youth to stay on their family’s insurance plans up to age 26.
Distressingly, children appear less economically secure by the Data Book’s figures. Families are still struggling in the wake of recession, and recovery has been slow. Policymakers should heed the advice of child advocates and not go through with proposed cuts to safety net programs, especially with joblessness still so high.
The Data Book tracks child well-being across a number of indicators to give a whole picture of how American kids are faring. It’s an indispensable guide for policymakers, journalists, and anyone concerned about the welfare of the next generation. Read the whole report here, or just see how your state is doing.