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September 2008Vol. 9, No. 7Indicators of Child Well-Being

Indicators of child and family well-being are a valuable resource for agencies and child welfare professionals working to improve the lives of children, families, and communities. Two resources by the Forum on Child and Family Statistics and the Annie E. Casey Foundation provide updated indicators and background data drawn from State, Federal, and community agencies.

The Forum's America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being online report provides an accessible compendium of indicators drawn from official statistical data. The indicators are organized by topic and must meet certain criteria for inclusion, including the impact they have on the lives of children, families, and communities; how they fluctuate and show trends over time; and whether or not they are easy to use and understand. Report indicators are divided among seven domains, including Family and Social Environment, Economic Circumstances, Health Care, Physical Environment and Safety, Behavior, Education, and Health.

Among this year's findings were a decline in childhood deaths from injuries but increases in the adolescent birth rate and in the percentage of low-birthweight newborns.

The Forum on Child and Family Statistics is a working group of 22 Federal agencies that collect, analyze, and report data on issues related to children and families. The report is available on the Forum website:

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count 2008 Data Book provides 10 updated indicators that measure overall child well-being and strategies to address negative outcomes. Key indicators include Low-Birthweight Babies, Infant Mortality, Child Death Rate, Teen Death Rate, Teen Birth Rate, High School Dropout Rate, Number of Disconnected Youth, Percentage of Children Whose Parents Lack Stable Employment, Child Poverty Rate, and Percentage of Children Living in Two-Parent Families. Most recently, comprehensive State-level data on children and families in the largest racial and ethnic groups have been added.

The 2008 book shows that children have experienced several areas of improvement (including child and teen death rates and the high school dropout rate). Several areas show worsened outcomes (including low-birthweight babies and children in poverty). The latest databook also includes an essay, "A Road Map for Juvenile Justice Reform," which discusses developments in the nation's juvenile justice systems.

Access the Kids Count 2008 Data Book or other databook features on the Annie E. Casey website: