State trends in child well-being


The Annie E. Casey Foundation


“The 35th edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT® Data Book examines the unprecedented declines in student math and reading proficiency brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on education. The latest data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress reveals that between 2019 and 2022, fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math scores plummeted, representing decades of lost progress. This alarming trend underscores the urgent need for action to address the growing academic disparities among U.S. students.

Today’s students, who will comprise America’s future workforce, are ill-prepared for the high-level reading, math and problem-solving skills required in a competitive global economy. The failure to adequately prepare our children will have dire consequences for their futures and for the economic vitality of our nation.

National Trends in Child Well-Being
In 2022, as COVID-19 restrictions eased, the impact of the pandemic on child well-being became evident. Six indicators worsened between 2019 and 2022, including educational achievement and the child and teen death rate. Between 2019 and 2021, the percentage of children scoring proficient or above in reading and math declined sharply. While this trend may have stabilized in 2022, the data indicate a significant setback in educational attainment. The child and teen death rate also remained elevated in 2022, with 17.0 deaths per 100,000 children and adolescents, compared to 14.7 in 2019.
However, some positive trends emerged:
Parents’ economic security improved significantly, with 62.4% of children living in economically secure homes in 2022, compared to 58.4% in 2021.
The child poverty rate decreased from 17.2% in 2021 to 15.9% in 2022, returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Health and Family
Positive trends were also observed in the family and community domains. Fewer children lived with parents lacking a high school diploma, and the number of children living in high-poverty communities decreased. The teen birth rate reached a record low in 2021 and remained stable in 2022 at 14 births per 1,000 teen females. These positive changes demonstrate how effective policies that address the root causes of challenges can contribute to significant improvements and create a brighter future for young people.

Trends in Racial Inequities
Racial inequities in America persist, with American Indian/Alaska Native, Black and Latino children facing significant disparities. Nearly all well-being indicators show disparate outcomes by race and ethnicity, with American Indian/Alaska Native children and Black children experiencing the lowest well-being levels. Generations of inequity and discrimination contribute to these disparities. Black children have higher rates of single-parent households and poverty, while American Indian/Alaska Native children are more likely to lack health insurance and live in resource-limited neighborhoods. Latino children have higher rates of obesity and live in households where the head may lack a high school diploma.

And despite overall better outcomes for Asian and Pacific Islander children, disaggregated data reveal significant disparities within this population. Burmese, Mongolian and Thai children experience higher rates of poverty and lack of high school diplomas in their households. Today, children of color constitute the majority of the nation’s children, highlighting the importance of ensuring their success for the future of America.”

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