The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released their 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book. It details how kids are doing across the United States, measuring overall child well-being, as well as ranking states in four specific areas: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. There are also individual state profiles, and Oklahoma’s data holds both good and bad news.
The KIDS COUNT Data Center ranks Oklahoma 40th overall in child well-being, and this is a slight improvement over last year. However, while the state made gains in five key areas, they fell in nine others while two remained unchanged. The worst news was in Economic Well-Being and Family and Community Indicators, where there simply was no improvement to report: more kids are living in poverty and in high poverty areas. Health was a mixed bag, showing a higher number of low-birth weight babies, which is bad, but also reporting more children with insurance and fewer child and teen deaths, which is obviously good news. Education trends looked somewhat better overall, with regards to preschool attendance and reading and math scores, but not enough high school students are graduating on time.
While I haven’t had the time to pull it all apart and dig deeper, this is my initial take away from the report; we are seeing some improvement in Oklahoma but more can be done. Essentially:
- Oklahoma is doing a better job keeping children healthy, but we are not focusing enough on their mother’s health, as demonstrated by the rise in low-birth weight babies.
- Oklahoma is doing a better job educating young children, but missing something critical at the high school level. This is being reflected in both the increase of high school students failing to graduate on time and the increase of unemployed teens not currently in school.
- More of Oklahoma’s children are being exposed to economic stress that will negatively impact their physical and mental health as well as their educational achievement.
While not ignoring the progress Oklahoma has made in recent years, it is important to take notice of the negative indicators so we can learn from them and work together towards solutions.
Here is a Tulsa World article about the 2012 KIDS COUNT profile.
Here is a link to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s homepage.
To view the national report or find out how other states compared, click here to go directly to the KIDS COUNT Data Center.
To view more detailed information about data relating to Oklahoma, click here.