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July/August 2004Vol. 5, No. 6KIDS COUNT Documents Trends in Child Well-Being

U.S. children show improved well-being on a majority of indicators used to assess child welfare, according to the newly released KIDS COUNT Data Book. A product of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual report on the state of children's well-being, as measured by 10 indicators. This newest release reports data for the period 1996 to 2001 and shows that, during this period, children's well-being increased in terms of:

  • Infant mortality rate
  • Child death rate
  • Rate of teen deaths by accident, homicide, and suicide
  • Teen birth rate
  • Percent of teens who are high school dropouts
  • Percent of teens not attending school and not working
  • Percent of children in families in which no parent has full-time employment
  • Percent of children in poverty.

During this same period, two indicators showed a decrease in child well-being: percent of low birthweight babies and percent of families with children headed by a single parent.

Included in this year's KIDS COUNT is an essay written by Douglas E. Nelson, President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, titled "Moving Youth from Risk to Opportunity." This essay focuses on the growing problem of disconnected young adults, providing a bleak picture of this particularly vulnerable group and noting that 15 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 24 years) fall into this category--they are not working, they are not in school, and they are facing adulthood unprepared and unsupported. Particularly at risk are teens in foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, teen parents, and those who never finish high school. Examples of programs from around the country that have been successful in connecting these youth to needed support systems are also included in the essay.

The 2004 KIDS COUNT Data Book is available online at the Annie E. Casey Foundation website at The online version allows the viewer to access profiles, maps, graphs, rankings, and raw data, as well as to download the entire book or selected sections.