Children who live in nurturing families and are part of supportive communities have better social-emotional and learning outcomes. 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. Parents struggling with financial hardship are more prone to stress and depression, possibly interfering with effective parenting. These values underscore the importance of taking a close look at this year’s family and community section of data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s National KIDS COUNT Data Book. The Data Book highlights data in child well-being in 4 sections and provides a ranking to each state. Typically, our state’s children fare quite well, this year being no different with an overall ranking of 10th best state in the nation in child well-being,3rd best in economic well-being, 11th in education and 26th in health.
Nebraska’s ranking in the family and community indicators remained consistent with last year, as 20th ranked state in the nation. While our ranking is in the top half of states, we actually worsened in 3 of the 4 indicators in this section.
- Children in single-parent families: 30% of kids were living in a single-parent family in 2013, an increase from 26% in 2008.
- Children in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma:12% of children lived in a household where the head did not have a high school diploma, an increase from 9% in 2008.
- Children living in high-poverty areas: 8% of Nebraska kids were living in high poverty areas in 2013, an increase from 6% in 2010.
- Teen births per 1,000: For every 1,000 teens in Nebraska in 2013, 25 gave birth. This is an improvement from 36 out of every 1,000 in 2008.
Worsening indicators are troubling, but with effective two-generation strategies focused on strengthening Nebraska families by mitigating their underlying economic distress and addressing the well-being of both parents and children, these indicators can be improved. With the right investments, we can provide all families and children with the opportunity to reach their full potential, and in the process, strengthen both our economy, our state and our nation.
Interested in more data on the well-being of Nebraska’s children? Watch for January’s release of the 2015 Kids Count in Nebraska Report for even more in depth data and analysis.