Annie E. Casey Foundation
July 2010

The Annie E. Casey Foundation recently released its annual Kids Count Data Book, an analysis of various indicators related to child/youth wellbeing, such as infant mortality rates, teen birth rates, and the number of teens not enrolled in high school.

Unemployment is on the rise (10.5 percent in Ohio) and states are facing budget cuts resulting in less money for things such as healthcare and education (for the Buckeye State, the deficit will be $8 billion). Given that the data for this report come from the year 2007, before the economic meltdown occurred, current statistics related to child wellbeing are probably even more dire.

After collecting data for ten key indicators and coming up with a raw composite score, the report ranks Ohio 29th in terms of overall child well being, down one spot from 2009. The findings have several implications for the state of Ohio as a whole, and for the education of our children.

Take teen birth rate for example, which is calculated by looking at births per 1,000 females ages 15–19. The national average is 43; Ohio comes in just below that at 41 births per 1,000. Significant numbers of teen births have a tangible impact on K-12 education as babies born to teen mothers are often born into homes with fewer resources to spend on education, and because teen mothers often may not attend college or even finish high school. Consequently, children may come to school behind their peers and face educational challenges, which in turn present challenges to schools and teachers.

Another telling statistic outlined by Kids Count is the number of teens not in high school and “not a high school graduate.” Ohio has 5 percent of teens not in high school and not a high school graduate. Even though Ohio fares better than many states in this category (40 other states have higher percentages of teens not in school), it’s imperative that our young people obtain the necessary skills to be gainfully employed. Graduating from high school is absolutely crucial to go on to achieve post- secondary education and to contribute to our state’s economy.

Another stark figure is the percentage of children living in poverty: In Ohio 19 percent of children live in poverty, compared to the national average of 18 percent. Children who grow up in poverty will be more prone to undesirable outcomes in school, and economic instability later on in life.

The future success of our nation depends on how well our children are provided for and the ability they have to flourish. These numbers illustrate there is still a great deal of room for improvement when it comes to the wellbeing of our children in Ohio and nationally.

To check out the complete report and see how your state stacks up click here.

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