Washington’s 1.5 million children fare well when it comes to health, but overall, our children’s well-being ranks close to the middle of the pack, according to the 2014 Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Book issued this week.
The annual publication compares key indicators and ranks states. This 2014 edition concludes that there has been gradual, incremental improvement for children of all ages over the past 25 years in the areas of education and health. However, child poverty and a clear opportunity gap for children of color continue.
Washington ranks ninth among states when it comes to health, measured by children without health insurance, low-birth weight babies, child and teen deaths, and teens who abuse alcohol or drugs. Washington's Apple Health for Kids initiative aims to get more children signed up for health care insurance.
When it comes to education, Washington ranks 20th among states, as measured by children not attending preschool, fourth graders not proficient in reading, eighth graders not proficient in math and high school students not graduating on time. State-funded preschool for low-income children in Washington is slated to become a statutory entitlement in school year 2018-19, and the Legislature and Governor have made steady progress in increasing enrollment.
In the area of family and community (measured by children in single-parent households, children in families where the head of household lacks a high school diploma, children living in high-poverty areas and teen births), Washington ranks 17th among states. DEL and partners continue to work on strengthening families and communities through our Strengthening Families Washington initiative, parent support in state-funded preschool, Early Achievers, and home visiting.
Finally, Washington ranks 27th for economic well-being, as measured by children in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, children living in households with a high housing cost burden, and teens not in school and not working.
"While we are proud of our state's progress in offering high-quality early learning opportunities to all children--especially children at risk of starting school not ready to succeed--there is more to do," said DEL Deputy Director Heather Moss. "With our state Early Learning Plan as our guide, we are working to ensure more families have access to state-funded comprehensive preschool and home visiting services, and that early learning professionals have support through Early Achievers to offer high-quality programs."
KIDS COUNT, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, is a national and state-by-state effort to track the status of children in the United States. The foundation is based in Baltimore, Maryland.