Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 Kids Count data: Washington ranks in the middle for overall child well-being by state

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.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Measles cases are up in Washington: Protect yourself and the children in your life

Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease, and there are more confirmed measles cases in Washington so far this year than in the past five years combined.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is an infectious viral disease that typically begins with a fever, followed by a cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis (pink eye). A rash starts on the face and upper neck, spreads down the back and trunk, then spreads to arms and legs. 

Our partners at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shared steps you can take to protect yourself and the children in your life:

  • The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is recommended for children 12 months and older, health care workers, college students, adults born after 1956, and people who travel internationally. Pregnant women should not get the vaccine until after giving birth.
  • Children should be vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine, with the first dose between 12 and 15 months and the second at 4 to 5 years. Children ages 6 to 11 months who will be travelling internationally should receive one dose of MMR at least two weeks before departure. Adults should have at least one measles vaccination, with some people needing two. Anyone planning to travel should make sure they are immune to measles before leaving the U.S. Vaccine can be found by calling your health care provider or by checking the online vaccine finder for a location near you.
  • People who are unvaccinated, or aren’t sure if they’re immune, and develop an illness with fever and rash should consult a health care professional immediately. Call ahead to your clinic, doctor’s office, or emergency room before arriving to avoid exposing others in waiting rooms.
For more information about measles and vaccinations, visit the DOH's Measles in Washington web page.  

Recent measles cases are confirmed in South King and Pierce counties. The Tacoma - Pierce County Health Department has posted a list of locations and time periods of concerns. If you visited one of these locations during the time period, contact your regular health care provider to let them know. 

Licensed child care providers must notify the local health jurisdiction, their Department of Early Learning licensor, and parents or guardians of children in care when they become aware of a household member, staff person or child in care being diagnosed with measles (or any of the contagious diseases listed in WAC 246-110-010).