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Kids Count National Data Book – Family and Community

Last month the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book, providing an annual snapshot of how America’s children and families are faring in every state and across the nation. In it, Nebraska received an 11th place ranking in overall child well-being. Over the past few weeks we have been investigating the Data Book and how Nebraska kids are faring in each domain. So far we have examined the Economic, Educational, and Healthful Well-being of Nebraska kids. Today we will wrap up this series with the final domain – family and community.

Children who live in nurturing families and are part of supportive communities have better social-emotional and learning outcomes. Parents struggling with financial hardship have fewer resources to invest in children and are more prone to stress and depression, which can interfere with effective parenting. These findings underscore the importance of two-generation strategies that strengthen families by mitigating their underlying economic distress, while addressing the well-being of children. Where families live also matters. When communities have strong institutions and the resources to provide safety, good schools and quality support services, families and their children are more likely to thrive. Nebraska ranks moderately well in this domain at 16th place.
In this domain, Nebraska saw improvements in 2 indicators, remained the same in 1, and a worsening in 1.
  • Children in single-parent families: 29% (129,000 children) in 2015 – Children growing up in single-parent families typically have access to fewer economic and emotional resources than children in
    two-parent families. In 2015, 35 percent of single-parent families had incomes below the poverty line, compared with 8 percent of married couples with children. They also have poorer health and educational outcomes and are more likely to drop out of school, to have or cause a teen pregnancy and to experience a divorce in adulthood. Nearly one in four of the 24.4 million children
    living with an unmarried parent in 2015 was living with cohabiting domestic partners, compared with only 16 percent in 1990.
  • Children in families where the household head lack a high school diploma: 9% (44,000 children) in 2015
    Children growing up with parents who have not graduated from high school have fewer socioeconomic advantages and are at greater risk of being born with a low birthweight, having health problems, entering school not ready to learn and having poor educational outcomes. More highly educated parents are better able to provide their children with economic stability and security, which enhances child development. Higher parental education levels also are strongly associated with better outcomes for children, including higher educational attainment and achievement. In fact, bachelor’s degree holders typically earn more than workers with only a high school diploma, which no longer guarantees success in the workforce. During the past several decades, parental education levels have steadily increased.
  • Children living in high-poverty areas : 7% (32,000 children) in 2015 – Concentrated poverty puts whole neighborhoods at risk. Residents of high-poverty neighborhoods face worse health outcomes, higher rates of crime and violence, poor-performing schools and limited access to networks and job opportunities. They also experience higher levels of financial insecurity. These barriers make it much harder for families to move up the economic ladder. Concentrated neighborhood poverty negatively affects all children living in the area — not only poor children, but also those who are economically better off. High-poverty areas are defined here as census tracts where the poverty rates for the total population are 30 percent or more.
  • Teen births per 1,000: 22 per 1,000 (1,388 births to teen) in 2015 – Teenage childbearing can have long-term negative effects for both the mother and the newborn. Babies born to teens are
    far more likely to be born preterm with a low birthweight. Their families are more likely to have limited educational and economic resources, which function as barriers to future earning potential and success. Children born to teen mothers tend to have poorer academic and behavioral outcomes and are more likely to engage in sexual activity and become teen mothers themselves. Although currently at a historic low, the teen birth rate in the United States remains the highest among all affluent countries.

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