A report released recently on child well-being across the country says the news is mostly good for Iowa kids when it comes to such factors as education, community, and health and family.
The Annie E. Casey 29th annual report – known as the 2018 Kids Count Data Book, ranks Iowa fifth overall, and fourth among states for economic well-being. It’s also in the top 10 for three other domains, ranked seventh in education, eighth in health and eighth in family and community.
Michael Crawford, director of Iowa Kids Count, says the positive rankings reflect the value Iowa places on its children.
Iowa’s teen birth rate declined 41% from 2010 to 2016, and there was a 25% improvement in children with health insurance and teens who graduate on time from high school.
Going forward, Crawford would like to see an improvement in the financial threshold for Iowa families to be eligible for child-care assistance. He’s concerned the state is falling behind in making sure families can afford preschool, which he believes is vital to kids being ready for first grade.
Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says the report shows the number of Iowa children living in poverty has increased to one in seven kids, and is even higher for children of color.
The report also highlights the need to ensure the 2020 U.S. Census is accurate. The young-child under-count has gotten worse with every census since 1980, which can cause communities to lose funding for programs designed to help children.