We are commemorating our 25th Anniversary with 25 posts about our history and accomplishments between now and the Spotlight Gala on September 15. Join us for a celebration of Voices for Children and all of the organizations, lawmakers, and individuals who have supported our work on behalf of children. For details, visit voicesforchildren.com/spotlight-gala.
Celebrating our 25th birthday at Voices for Children is a pretty big deal. But there’s another birthday we’re celebrating, too. This year also marks the 20th edition of the Kids Count in Nebraska Report.
In 1992, Voices for Children published Hide & Seek: The State of the Child in Nebraska. Though it was not yet called Kids Count, this inaugural data book paved the way for our annual reporting on the well-being of Nebraska kids. In fact, the book’s prologue laid out the goal of updating only every four years. We did better than anticipated.
Each year, just like a child, Kids Count grew. Staffers nurtured the book, fed it more data, and added more pages as it outgrew the old ones. The 20th edition of Kids Count, currently in production, will feature more data than ever as the report continues to come into its own and to respond to the issues faced by children in our state.
Some things haven’t changed, though. I’d like to share with you some of the opening lines of Hide & Seek because they nicely capture what our organization and Kids Count have always been about:
Children can’t speak out for themselves, can’t vote, and can’t contribute to election campaigns. The children of Nebraska need each of us to be a voice so their needs
can be echoed through the chambers of city councils, county boards, and the Legislature. They need each of us to be a voice for children so their needs can be considered first . . . instead of last.
Twenty years later, the Kids Count in Nebraska Report is as important as ever. We can look back and see where improvements have occurred, such as in the number of youth arrested each year. We can also see where challenges remain, as in the growing rate of kids in poverty.
The data included in Kids Count provide legislators and stakeholders with a big picture of how kids have fared, over time, in the areas of health, education, safety, and economic well-being. With these numbers in hand, we can all make the smart choices that best serve Nebraska kids – and make sure that their voices are heard first.