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Coming in 8th – or how Nebraska’s KIDS COUNT rank doesn’t tell the whole story

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s National KIDS COUNT Data Book was released on Monday.  The Data Book provides policymakers and citizens with benchmarks of child well-being that in turn can enrich local, state, and national discussions concerning ways to secure better futures for all children.  This book presents the latest trends in four categories: 1) Economic Well-Being, 2) Education, 3) Health, and 4) Family and Community.

Nebraska historically fairs very well in the National KIDS COUNT Data Book and this year is no different.  Each state is ranked on overall Child Well-being as well as in each category.  This year Nebraska ranked 8th in the nation for overall child well-being (up one spot from last year’s rankings), 4th for economic well-being, 17th in education, 10th in health, and 15th in family and community.

While these rankings are fantastic and show that Nebraskan’s ultimately have the best interest of children at heart, they fail to tell the whole story.  Of the 16 indicators that are used to calculate the rankings Nebraska worsened in 9 of them. Despite the fact that we rank 4th overall in economic well-being, we loss ground on all four indicators:

  • The number of children in poverty increased from 15% in 2005 to 18% in 2011.
  • The number of children whose parent lack secure employment increased from 19% in 2008 to 24% in 2011.
  • The number of children living in households with high housing costs increased from 24% in 2005 to 26% in 2011.
  • The number of teens not working and not in school increased from 4% in 2008 to 5% in 2011.

Therefore our improvement in ranking doesn’t really show improvements in child well-being, but rather other states worsening more than we are.  For more information on how Nebraska did on each indicator check out the 2013 Kids Count Nebraska State Profile.

The National report is great to show how Nebraska is comparing to other states in the county and how other states are doing in many different areas of child well-being.  But this report fails to show how different groups of Nebraska’s children are doing in each area.  Voices for Children’s Kids Count in Nebraska report will continue to be the comprehensive source for sharing that information and telling the whole story of Nebraska’s kids.

 

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Comment(1)

  1. REPLY
    Keith Allen says

    Chrissy, I heard your report on NPR this morning. Well done! I was pleased that the local NPR affiliate looked to Voices for Children in Nebraska for a comment and perspective on the national release of the Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT. But I was especially pleased that you worked on air and here online to “tell the whole story” about what these data tell us about how kids are doing in Nebraska.

    Thanks!

    Keith Allen

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