Harrisburg, PA — The 2020 edition of the KIDS COUNT®Data Book, released recently by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows Pennsylvania ranks 20th for overall child well-being. The report is a comprehensive national reviews of child well-being and uses 16 indicators across four domains to rank each state: economic well-being, education, family and community, and health.
For the 2020 report, the data captured is from 2018, so the impact of the COVID-19 crisis is not reflected.
“While Pennsylvania has made gains in education, we have more work to do to improve our ranking in the economic well-being and family and community domains, as we lost ground in those areas,” said Kari King, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC).
“Too many children are in poverty across the state, are uninsured, or lack access to publicly-funded child care and pre-k. As data becomes available examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, working together with our partners in the child welfare system, and in the early learning, K-12 education and health care sectors will be crucial for improving outcomes for Pennsylvania children and families.”
According to the Data Book, Pennsylvania now ranks:
* 26th in the family and community domain. This domain examines the percentage of children living in high-poverty areas, percentage of children living in single-parent households and education levels among heads of households, as well as teen birth rates. While the number of children living in high-poverty areas improved slightly since last year, it is still Pennsylvania’s worst ranking across all indicators. If Pennsylvania had just 21,000 fewer children in high-poverty areas, it would improve the state’s rate by 10 percent.
* 23rd in economic well-being. The economic well-being domain examines data related to child poverty, family employment, housing costs and whether older teens are not in school and not working. Since last year, the number of children living in poverty decreased slightly, but that indicator has seen an improvement of only 11 percent since 2010.
* 19th in health. The health domain looks at the percentage of children who lack health insurance, child and teen death rates, the percentage of low-birth weight babies and, for the first time, obesity among teens. The rate of uninsured children remained the same since last year and has improved only by 20 percent since 2010. Today, only 42 percent of children in Pennsylvania have access to affordable, quality health care coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), according to the Department of Human Services (DHS). For Pennsylvania to be the top-ranked state in this domain, an additional 96,000 children would need health care coverage.
* 7th in education. The education domain looks at early education opportunities for preschoolers in reading and math proficiency, and whether high school students graduate on time. Pennsylvania’s ranking for the number of 4th graders performing below the proficient level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessments improved, jumping from 11th to 4th place – by far the state’s best ranking. However, 60 percent (or 3 in 5) 4th graders scored below proficient. In addition, the rate of 3- and 4- year-olds not attending school has worsened by 4 percent when compared to 2010.
The 2020 KIDS COUNT® Data Book may be accessed at aecf.org. Additional information is available at aecf.org/databook. Tools to create maps and graphs illustrating the data may be found at the KIDS COUNT Data Center (datacenter.kidscount.org).
About Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) is a strong, effective and trusted voice to improve the health, education and well-being of children and youth in the commonwealth. Since 1992, our public policy victories have helped countless children learn, thrive and succeed, regardless of circumstances. PPC is statewide, independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit.
About the Annie E. Casey Foundation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s young people by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.