Indiana children are growing up healthier but the state continues to struggle with high rates of child poverty according to new data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book. Indiana ranks 21st in child health, up 13 spots from last year. Indiana Youth Institute helped prepare the data.
“We see fewer babies being born at low birth rate, or babies being born at healthy birth rate,” said President & CEO for Indiana Youth Institute Bill Stanczykiewicz.
“We also see fewer deaths amongst children and teenagers especially teens when they are driving. And then lastly, we see fewer teenagers abusing drugs and alcohol, and when you take those together it explains the improvement in health indicators for Indiana.”
But when it comes to children in poverty, the state still lags behind. Child poverty in Indiana has increased since 2000. Nearly 1/4th of Indiana’s children age 18 and under are now living in poverty. Stanczykiewicz explains that’s mainly due to the state’s manufacturing jobs requiring more education than before. There are other factors that influence this, like an increase of children living in single parent homes who have a five to six times larger risk to be living in poverty.
“We have short term approaches we can take certainly helping people in need through charitable giving,” said Stanczykiewicz.
“Philanthropic efforts helping them enroll in social safety net, public safety net programs, and long term this report points out to the strong need of education, that we need more Indiana kids with more education at the high school so they can get today’s jobs and be able to support themselves in the 21st century economy.”
Indiana’s overall rank for 2013 out of 50 states and Washington, D.C. improved to 30th from 31st in 2012. In addition to the health and economic well-being rankings, the Kids Count Data Book ranks the state 34th in education and 30th in family and community.