In my blog post last week about the new KIDS COUNT Data Book, I pointed to the dark cloud overshadowing Nebraska’s high national ranking in child well-being. Our 9th-place finish demonstrated that we do pretty well compared with the other 49 states – but masked our own worsening atmosphere in recent years.
Today, let’s look more closely at the two domains where we fell the hardest: Economic Well-Being, and Family and Community. Each domain has four key indicators as well as comparisons between national and state numbers. The column on the far right shows percent change over time in Nebraska.
Many of the indicators, even in the Family and Community domain, get at the financial stability of Nebraska kids and families. That’s because being poor makes a difference for kids, now and later. Patrick McCarthy, President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, wrote as much in the Data Book.
“On almost every measure, children who experience chronic or deep poverty, especially when they are young, face tougher developmental and social barriers to success,” he wrote. “Even brief experiences of poverty in early childhood can have lasting effects on health, education, employment and earning power.”
Knowing that 18% of Nebraska kids live in poverty, we have reason to be concerned about the forecast for tomorrow’s adults. On Friday, I’ll find some sunshine amongst the clouds and share recommendations for improving child well-being.
In the meantime, tell us what you think we can do to improve life for kids. How would you reverse these trends for a brighter future?