National Foundation Calls for “Data Revolution” to Track Progress,
Improve Lives of Vulnerable Kids:
Federal, State and Local Government Action Needed
Baltimore, Md., – The Annie E. Casey Foundation today called for improvements to the nation’s ability to design and evaluate programs aimed at the needs of children and families living in poverty. Casey, in releasing its 20th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, makes it clear that the basis for improving the outcomes of this country’s most disadvantaged children and families lies in identifying where they are, the conditions that they live in, and the effectiveness of current programs to improve outcomes.
The KIDS COUNT Data Book and the new
“Better futures for children will not occur simply by combining better data, stronger data analysis, and an increased use of new technology,” says Douglas W. Nelson, president and CEO of the Baltimore-based Casey Foundation. “But by counting what counts in the lives of children and families, we can better hold ourselves accountable to our national commitment to meet the needs and boost the outcomes for less-fortunate children. It’s time to focus on the evolving needs of the next generation of millions of children whose future well-being is on the line.”
In this year’s Data Book essay, “Counting What Counts,” Casey calls on federal leaders, state and local decision makers, and children’s advocates to transform how they use data to improve the lives of vulnerable children through:
· Leadership at the federal level to develop high-quality data systems: Key recommendations include fully funding, properly managing, and successfully promoting the 2010 Census; updating the
· Commitment at the state and local level to improve performance measurement: Steps that can be taken include enhancing administrative databases, improving data analysis, promoting data-driven practice improvements, and expanding the use of new information technologies.
· Engagement of children’s advocates and other concerned leaders: Awareness and mobilization efforts include using compelling data to inform and strengthen advocacy; identifying critical, measureable benchmarks; and using neighborhood indicators and community mapping to clarify challenges and identify opportunities for helping families succeed.
“Access to timely and easily understood data can lead to better-informed policies, more focused programming, and more efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” declares Patrick McCarthy, senior vice president of the Casey Foundation. “Despite the temptations to cut back on government-financed systems during hard economic times, ensuring that policy makers and managers have the information they need to make critically important decisions can deliver an immense payoff in reduced waste and improved results for children.”
The 20th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book indicators show that national trends in child well-being have improved slightly since 2000. These national trends, however, are not on par with the well-being improvements that were seen at the end of the 1990s. “KIDS COUNT has slightly more good news than bad for children, but there are some trends going in the wrong direction,” says Laura Beavers, coordinator of the national KIDS COUNT project. “The poverty rate for children remains between 17 and 19 percent thus far this decade – the rate of 18 percent in 2007 means 900,000 more children were living in poverty nationally than in 2000, a number that spurs our call for change.”
Nationally, the differences in child well-being across racial and ethnic lines vary by indicator. In fact, nationally, since 2000, gaps in the differences in child well-being along racial and ethnic lines have decreased in some areas—most notably, the high school dropout rate. However, on the whole, non-Hispanic white children continue to have greater opportunities for better outcomes compared with most other racial and ethnic groups.
The 2009 KIDS COUNT Data Book found that:
Compared to the national average of 18 percent, nearly twice as many African-American children (35 percent) were living in poverty, but had only one percent higher (8 percent) than the national average (7 percent) of teen high school dropouts;
Nationally, Asian American children and families fared better than national averages on all 10 indicators of well-being, and better than white children on all but three indicators (percentage of low-birthweight babies, percentage of children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment, and percentage of children in poverty);
American Indian and Alaskan Native children were three times (33 percent) more likely than white children (11 percent) to be living in poverty, and fared worse than national averages on all ten KIDS COUNT indicators of child well-being except percentage of low-birthweight babies;
The birth rate of Hispanic and Latino teens (83 per thousand live births) was nearly double that of the national average (42 per thousand live births), but Hispanic and Latino children fared better than the national average on some health indicators, including the percentage of low-birthweight babies, the infant mortality rate, and the child death rate.
The 2009 KIDS COUNT Data Book provides national statistics for five large racial and ethnic groups on each of the 10 measures of child well-being used to rank states. To access state-level data for these racial and ethnic groups for our 10 key indicators, visit the
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private charitable organization, whose primary mission is to foster public policies, human-service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.