The Annie E. Casey Foundation has been tracking child well-being in their annual KIDS COUNT Data Book for the past 25 years. The data in the 2014 report continues to measure indicators in four domains: 1) Economic Well-being, 2) Education, 3) Health, and 4) Family and Community. The figures are based on data as recent as 2012.
This year, Oklahoma fell to 39th overall in Child Well-Being in the KIDS COUNT state profiles. Terry Smith, the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, was quoted in the Oklahoman as saying
“After a brief improvement in the rankings due to the recession’s impacts on the rest of the nation, Oklahoma has begun to fall again as the overall economy improves.”
Smith went on to say our state is not making the kinds of “smart investments” in kids that we need.
Oklahoma is currently ranked 30th in Economic Well-Being, according to the report. The KIDS COUNT data shows that as of 2012, an estimated 222,000 Oklahoma kids were living in poverty. This accounts for nearly 1 out of every 4 children in the state. That is enough children to fill the Cotton Bowl to capacity almost 2 ½ times. (Nationwide, around 16,397,000 children were living in poverty, and that is enough to fill the Cotton Bowl to capacity 178 times.)
Oklahoma’s statistics in other areas are troubling as well. While acknowledging it is mathematically impossible for every state to be above average, the data behind the ranking shows Oklahoma is far behind the states at the top of the study, such as Massachusetts. It proves, as the report says,
“A child’s chances of thriving depend not just on individual, familial and community characteristics, but also on the state in which she or he is born and raised.”
The chart below looks specifically at Education and compares the highest ranked state (Massachusetts), the lowest ranked state (Mississippi), and Oklahoma. It illustrates that there is plenty of room for improvement in the Sooner State.
In every area of measurement except graduation rates, Oklahoma trails the national leader by at least 16 percentage points. It is also interesting to note that although Oklahoma has universal preschool available through public schools, Mississippi has a higher rate of children attending preschool than Oklahoma. (This is based on U.S. Census data taken from the American Community Survey.)
And even compared to neighboring Kansas, Oklahoma is trailing. This is especially pronounced in regards to math scores and graduation rates.
For Oklahoma, the full rankings are detailed below:
- 30th in Economic Well-being:
- 24% of children live in poverty;
- 30% of children have parents who lack secure employment;
- 29% of children live in households with a high housing cost burden; and
- 10% of teens are not in school and also not working.
- 41st in Education:
- 58% of children do not attend preschool;
- 70% of fourth graders are not proficient in reading;
- 75% of eighth graders are not proficient in math; and
- 21% of high school students are not graduating on time.
- 41st in Health:
- 8% of babies are born with a low-birthweight;
- 10% of children lack health insurance;
- 36 is the number of child and teen deaths per 100,000; and
- 6% of teens abuse drugs or alcohol.
- 38th in Family and Community:
- 35% of children are in single-parent homes;
- 13% of children live in homes where the head of household lacks a high school diploma;
- 12% of Oklahoma children live in high poverty areas; and
- 47 of every 1000 births in Oklahoma are to teenage mothers.
You can access national and state profiles at the Annie E. Casey Foundation website by clicking here.
For more coverage of Oklahoma’s KIDS COUNT rankings, check out:
- Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy: They not only advocate for Oklahoma’s children, but are part of the National KIDS COUNT network. They host KIDS COUNT Power Lunches periodically throughout the state to educate advocates on topics impacting Oklahoma kids.
- The Norman Transcript’s “It’s Only Getting Worse.”
- The Oklahoman’s “Report ranks Oklahoma 39th in well-being of its children.”
- The News on Six’s, “Study: 1 in 4 Oklahoma kids live in poverty.”