Child Well-Being and Opportunity in America: More evidence the two are inextricably linked•
This week, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 25th annual report on child well-being: the 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book, painting a mixed picture of improvements and setbacks for our nation’s youngest. While more children are living in poverty than a decade ago, they are, on the whole, receiving better educations and are healthier.
What’s striking about the latest data is just how closely child well-being – measured in terms of economics, education, health, family and community factors — tracks with access to opportunity for all Americans.
Take a look at the state rankings and compare the new KIDS COUNT data with the latest Opportunity Index, which measures 16 key indicators of economic, educational and civic opportunity.
Eight of the 10 states earning top honors in terms of child-well being also appear on the top 10 states for providing access to opportunity to residents.
Now let’s look at the bottom-scoring states.
The overlap here is even greater. For those states scoring the worst on child well-being and access to opportunity, nine out of 10 appear at the bottom of both lists.
What does this tell us about the fate of children and our overall prosperity and health as a nation? These rankings offer powerful evidence that the well-being of all Americans – our society, our families and our economy – are inextricably connected.
“We all benefit when our children are nourished, cared for, well-educated and healthy,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count. “We believe that improving child well-being is the clearest path forward to ensuring the economic vitality of our state and our nation.”
This data also serves as a call to action (read more about how KIDS COUNT data has prompted policy change in Rhode Island). Generating and sharing information such as the KIDS COUNT Fact Book and the Opportunity Index can spur all sectors – private, public and nonprofit — to make concrete changes that improve people’s lives. It helps to generate informed policy decisions and investments, and inspires all of us to do our part to ensure that everyone, particularly the youngest and most vulnerable among us – get their fair shot at the American Dream.