Indiana drops in child well-being ranking; report shows other health and education improvements

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 21, 2015) – A new report ranks Indiana 32nd in the country when it comes to overall child well-being, which is down five spots from last year.

The annual “Kids Count Data Book,” done by the Annie E. Casey foundation, looks at four categories when ranking states: Family/Community, Education, Health and Economic Well-Being.

Glenn Augustine, interim CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, says the lower ranking doesn’t necessarily mean things are declining in the Hoosier state though — he says several states simply showed more improvements, which is why Indiana dropped down.

“If you look at the 16 categories, Indiana has improved in 11 of those and held steady in one other,” Augustine said.

“I don’t think anybody in Indiana is happy with where we are… we’re still trying to make sure that there are better opportunities for children,” he said.

Augustine explained that three of the four categories where Indiana saw decreases were related to economic well-being, meaning there’s a high percentage of kids living in poverty or Hoosier parents who don’t have stable jobs.

“Poverty after a recession is one of the last indicators of economic well-being to recover, so, following the recession of 2008, 2009… it appears Indiana still hasn’t recovered for those people in living in poverty,” Augustine said.

Augustine and other IYI leaders believe education is the key to lifting those kids out of poverty — and the new report did show improvements in that category.

“Kids are more proficient in reading, more children are graduating from high school on time and we’re seeing math proficiency increase,” he said.

Augustine says there are improvements to note as well:

  • Fewer Hoosier kids (8%) lack health insurance compared to 2008 (10%)
  • The percentage of teens who abused drugs or alcohol fell from 8% (2007/2008) to 6% (2012/2013)
  • The percentage of babies born with a low birth weight in 2013 (7.9%) is now below the national average (8%), an improvement for Indiana after several years exceeding the national average

“In both the public and private sector, we need to make sure that folks who are living in poverty have the information they need to access services that are available to try and help lift them out of poverty. We need to communicate that there are opportunities out there for education and for their children, and that education is really the key to getting a job that pays a good, sustainable wages,” Augustine said.

“I think what these numbers say is — let’s take a look at where we’re doing well, see what we’re doing and see if that’s moving the needle and keep doing that and even look for more improvements.”