Arizona ranks 46th in the nation for overall child well-being

For nearly three decades, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book has given an annual glimpse into the lives of children and families across the nation.

Reported trends give insight into both progress and areas of concern, and are based on an analysis of specific factors that impact our youth including economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book shows that Arizona comes in 46th in overall child well-being, a rank lower than last year’s report. Findings show that the state ranks 43rd in economic well-being, 44th in education, 40th in healthcare and 46th in family and community.

On a national level, overall positive gains are reported in all four core sectors of the report. Data highlights that parental employment and wages are increasing, a record number of children currently have health insurance and high school graduation rates are on the rise. Despite positive trends, a closer look at the data reveals that children continue to face serious challenges.

Child poverty remains high, hindering the educational success of children across the country. The report points out that increased wage growth is not translating into economic gains for low-wage families, resulting in these families “making up lost ground rather than getting ahead.”

This reported lack of financial resources seeps into various areas of children’s development, including education. For example, 31 percent more fourth graders in low income families scored below proficient reading level in fourth grade, in comparison to children in families with moderate to high income levels.

In general, the report also shows that generational inequalities and systemic barriers remain prominent obstacles for children of color. Negative trends for African-American, American Indian and Latino children remain strong in comparison to the national average.

Other factors also play key roles in children’s chances of successful transition into adulthood. In recent years, the percentage of children living in single-parent households remains the same. The added financial burden often associated with single-parent households make it more difficult for families to shift their economic status. Children in single-parent families often face financial hardship, and are more prone to a range of stressors due to their lack of economic and emotional resources.

With the help of early childhood advocates, programs and services around the country work diligently to ensure that children have the best future possible, despite their family history and socioeconomic status.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs strive to break poverty and toxic cycles both nationally and locally. National initiatives like ZERO TO THREE’s #ThinkBabies campaign to influence political figures to keep children’s futures at the forefront of their mind.

Public policy plays a significant role in the well-being of our nation’s future. When dollars are not invested wisely, our nation’s youth inevitably suffer the consequences. Time after time, the insurmountable amount of research on early childhood development continues to show us what children need to be successful.

Read the full 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book

Help shape our nations future, tell your local policymakers why children’s well-being matters.