Report: Family Well-Being, Education Decline For U.S. Kids Despite Recovery From Great Recession
Report: Family Well-Being, Education Decline for U.S. Kids Despite Recovery From Great Recession
As the nation emerged from the severe economic downturn known as the Great Recession, there were signs of improvement in the health and economic well-being of children. However, the recovery did not bring significant progress in education and the overall climate in families and communities.
These are the key findings of the 2017 Kids Count Data Book, an annual report produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report assesses the well-being of American children in four areas: economic conditions, education, health, and family and community support. This year, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont ranked as the top three states for child well-being, while Louisiana, New Mexico, and Mississippi ranked at the bottom.
In terms of education, Massachusetts and New Jersey were the highest-ranked states, while Nevada and New Mexico were at the bottom. In response to these rankings, Nevada school leaders have made promises to improve the educational outcomes of their students through measures passed by state lawmakers.
The report also highlighted the increased occurrence of American families living in neighborhoods with high poverty rates, particularly in the South and Southwest. Between 2011 and 2015, 14 percent of children in the country lived in communities where poverty rates were 30 percent or higher. Laura Speer, the associate director of policy reform and advocacy at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, expressed concern about the high child poverty rates in the U.S. and emphasized the negative impact it has on young people and the nation as a whole.
Although there have been some improvements in reading proficiency and high school graduation rates, with an all-time high of 83 percent of high school students graduating on time in 2014-15, racial and income disparities persist. The report also revealed that despite slight improvements, a significant proportion of fourth-graders (65 percent) are not proficient in reading, which increases their risk of dropping out of school and limits their future career prospects. Additionally, math proficiency among eighth-graders decreased, with 68 percent not meeting proficiency standards in 2015.
The authors of the report emphasized the importance of reliable data in informing policy decisions that address poverty and improve the education and health of future generations. They called on policymakers to build on effective strategies and implement additional solutions that make a measurable difference for children.
Based on their findings, the Annie E. Casey Foundation made the following recommendations:
1. Sustain health care programs: Ensure that 95 percent of U.S. children have access to health insurance by continuing investments at the federal and state levels. Remove barriers that hinder families from enrolling their children in health coverage programs.
2. Invest in early childhood education programs: Recognize that the early years of a child’s development lay the foundation for future success in school and life. Support early childhood education opportunities at the local, state, and federal levels to enable children to reach important milestones that lead to long-term success.
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