Utah ranks lower in report on child well-being

Posted at 7:22 AM, Jul 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-25 09:22:19-04

The follow is a press release from The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Salt Lake City, UT – The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual KIDS COUNT report on child well-being today, ranking Utah 11th among all the states. This year’s Data Book has been revamped; it ranks Utah on 16 indicators rather than 10, and organizes the data into four domains:

  •     Economic Well-Being
  •     Education
  •     Health
  •     Family and Community

“The addition of domains makes it possible to pinpoint the areas where Utah is doing well and those we as a state need to work to improve,” said Terry Haven, KIDS COUNT director for Voices for Utah Children. “The data clearly shows that Utah needs to concentrate on the domains of Education and Economic Well-Being to improve our national ranking.”
While Utah ranked 13th nationally in the Economic Well-Being domain, the state worsened in all four of the domain’s indicators, including a 45 percent increase in child poverty. In the Education domain, Utah worsened in two of the four indicators, stayed the same in one, and improved in one. Utah ranked lowest in the Education domain, coming in at 27th.

“Family economic stress and hardship can negatively affect children’s physical and mental health, academic achievement, and social-emotional well-being,” said Haven. “Research shows that with a strong beginning, it is easier to keep children in school, on track, and graduating. These two domains are crucial in helping children successfully transition to young adulthood.”

Overall, the national Data Book shows Utah improved in six of the child well-being indicators, worsened in eight, and stayed unchanged in two. All of Utah’s domains and rankings are listed below.

Economic Well-Being: Ranked 13th                

  •     Children in Poverty, 2010: 16 percent, worsened by 45 percent
  •     Children whose parents lack secure employment, 2010: 24 percent, worsened by 26 percent
  •     Children living in households w/high housing cost burden, 2010: 37 percent, worsened by 16 percent
  •     Teens not in school and not working, 2010: 9 percent, worsened by 50 percent

Education: Ranked 27th

  •     Children not attending preschool, 2008-2010: 59 percent, improved by 5 percent
  •     Fourth graders not proficient in reading, 2011: 67 percent, worsened by 2 percent
  •     Eighth graders no proficient in math, 2011: 65 percent, improved by 7 percent
  •     High school students not graduating on time, 2008-2009: 21 percent, stayed the same

Health: Ranked 13th

  •     Low birth-weight babies, 2009: 7 percent, worsened by 3 percent
  •     Children without health insurance, 2010: 11 percent, improved by 15 percent
  •     Child and teen deaths per 100,000, 2009: 25, improved by 17 percent
  •     Teens who abuse alcohol or drugs, 2008-2009: 6 percent, improved by 14 percent

Family & Community: Ranked 3rd

  •     Children in single-parent families, 2010: 19 percent, worsened by 6 percent
  •     Children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma, 2006-2010: 9 percent, stayed the same
  •     Children living in high-poverty areas, 2006-2010: 3 percent, worsened by 50 percent
  •     Teen births per 1,000, 2009: 31, improved by 6 percent

“The good news is that the negative consequences of poverty are not inevitable. To decrease the numbers of children who are at risk for bad outcomes as a consequence of economic hardship, we must invest in strategies that can help children reach their full potential. In the wake of the recession, policymakers need to focus on ensuring the next generation of children is healthy, educated, and prepared to compete in a global economy,” said Haven.