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2014 National Kids Count Series: Family and Community

Last month the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book highlighting state trends in child well-being and celebrating their 25th edition of the book by going back to 1990 and looking at changes in America’s children since then. Voices for Children in Nebraska is featuring a series on the data book and how Nebraska did this year in relation to ourselves from past years as well as other states in the nation. Typically, Nebraska fares quite well in the report with rankings near the top every year, and 2014 was no different. This year our state ranked number 10, meaning that children in Nebraska have higher measures of well-being than 80% of states in the U.S.. Previous posts in this series have examined Nebraska’s ratings in economic well-being, education, and health. Today concludes the series with a look at the final section of the 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book – Family and Community.

Nebraska was ranked 20th in the country for family and community in this year’s report, a drop from our 15th place ranking last year. We have also only improved in one of the indicators from pre-recession years – number of teen births per 1,000. Nebraska worsened in the other three indicators from last year, and compared to the pre-recession year data, we worsened in 2 and showed no change in the third. The data from the report is as follows:

  • Children in single-parent families: 30% of kids were living in a single-parent family in 2012, an increase from 25% in 2005.
  • Children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma: 11% of children lived in a household where the head did not have a high school diploma, unchanged from 2005.
  • Children living in high-poverty areas: 7% of Nebraska kids were living in high poverty areas in 2012, an increase from 3% in 2000.
  • Teen births per 1,000: For every 1,000 teens in Nebraska in 2012, 27 gave birth. This is an improvement from 34 out of every 1,000 in 2005.

The worsening data indicators are troubling, and show that Nebraska needs to do a better job in supporting single parent and working families, as well as ensuring that when parent’s are working they are earning the money necessary to support their families’ basic needs. Each of these 4 indicators are linked to greater disadvantage for children living in families and communities that experience them, but that does not have to be the case. With good policy, all children can have the opportunity to thrive and succeed later in life regardless of where or to whom they are born.

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