As you may or may not know, in late June the 2016 KIDS COUNT data book was published by the Annie E. Casey foundation. This is a state-by-state annual report on children’s overall well-being in the categories of: economic, education, health, and family & community. There was some good news – Pennsylvania has decreased the number of 4th graders who are not proficient in reading and math. Fewer children go without health insurance. There has been a decrease in teens who abuse alcohol and/or drugs, as well as the teen birth rate.
But unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news. Pennsylvania’s ranking in economic well-being, which looks at data related to child poverty, family employment, and housing costs, decreased from 19th in the country (2015) to the 22nd for this year. Similarly, last year we were ranked 7th overall in education; this year, we are 10th. As if this wasn’t enough bad news, the nation, too, has fallen in these same categories.
In Pennsylvania, we are experiencing a sluggish economic recovery. As a result, many families are still facing tough economic times and poverty continues to remain a challenge. Too many households are headed by a parent(s) who lack a high school diploma.
So what can we do? As I’ve mentioned in previously blogs(link), we know that with high quality early childhood education, children get the “right start” to succeed throughout their school career and by extension their lives. We need to increase access to high quality Pre-K, and better fund all of our schools so that a child’s zip code doesn’t determine the quality of his or her education.
Read the full results here: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/