More than a million Florida children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty—25% compared to 18% in 2005, according to the 2014 Kids Count Data Book published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Worsening trends in economic well-being among families with children contributed to an overall ranking for Florida of 38 out of 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington DC.
The state fared better in education, improving in all of the indicators (pre-school attendance, 4th grade reading proficiency, 8th grade math proficiency, and high school graduation rates). Gains were also made in health (low-birthweight, uninsured children, child/teen deaths and substance use) although Florida remained in the bottom quartile of states. Florida trends mirrored nationally trends with the economic status of children worsening between 2005 and 2012.
“With advances in neuroscience, as well as solid research on what works, we now know more than ever before about how to give children a good start and help them meet major developmental milestones throughout childhood,” said Patrick McCarthy, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “On several fronts, we’ve seen the difference that smart policies, effective programs and high quality practice can make in improving child well-being and long term outcomes. We should all be encouraged by the improvements in many well-being indicators in the health, education and safety areas.”
“But we must do much more,” McCarthy said. “All of us, in every sector—business, government, nonprofits, faith-based groups, families—need to continue to work together to ensure that all children have the chance to succeed. We should strengthen our commitment and redouble our efforts until every child in America develops to full potential. We simply cannot afford to endanger the futures of the millions of low-income children who don’t have the chance to experience high-quality early childhood programs and the thriving neighborhoods that higher-income families take for granted.”
The 2014 Data Book is the 25th edition of the Casey Foundation’s signature publication. The report examines trends in child well-being since 1990, the year of the first report. It highlights positive policies and practices that have improved child health and development and features stories from several states on advocacy efforts that have improved outcomes for kids and families. View Florida’s profile here.