• July 2000
  • Vol. 1, No. 5

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Casey Foundation Report Evaluates the Well-Being of U.S. Children

How are U.S. children doing, educationally, socially, economically, and physically? The 2000 edition of the Kids Count Data Book tries to provide some answers.

The report, published annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, compiles national and State-by-State data on 10 key indicators of child well-being, including infant mortality, poverty, parents' employment, birthweight, and births to teen-age mothers.

This year's report examines vulnerable families through the lens of "connectedness." According to the report, poor families are increasingly "disconnected" from their communities, the economy, and society at large because they lack access to commonplace tools, services, and supports that anchor the lives of more affluent families, such as banks, cars, civic groups, supermarkets, and libraries.

"The absence of these critical links can compound the stress and burden of parenthood, particularly for parents of young children," writes Casey Foundation President Douglas W. Nelson in an essay included in the report. Nelson notes that isolation is strongly correlated with "the high rates of child neglect and abuse that increase out-of-home placements in many poor neighborhoods."

Nelson also observes the increasing importance of being connected electronically, and in this regard, too, poor families lag behind. The report notes, for example, that among poor inner-city households with children, 84 percent do not have a home computer and almost 20 percent don't even have a telephone.

On the national level, during the reporting period of 1990 to 1997, indicators improved in the following areas:

  • Infant mortality. The rate of infants who died before their first birthdays fell by 22 percent nationwide. In 1990, 9.2 deaths occurred per 1,000 live births, compared with 7.2 births in 1997.
  • Child mortality. The childhood death rate decreased by 19 percent, from 31 to 25 per 100,000 children aged 1 to 14.
  • Teen deaths. The death rate for teenagers fell substantially, from 71 to 58 per 100,000 children aged 15 to 19 who died by accident, homicide, and suicide, equalling an 18 percent decline.
  • Births to teen-age mothers. The teen birth rate decreased by 14 percent nationwide. For every 1,000 females ages 15 to 17, 32 babies were born in 1997, down from 37 babies in 1990.
  • Idle teens. The number of idle teens (those aged 16 to 19 who were not in school or employed) declined by 10 percent.
  • Parental employment. The percentage of children living with underemployed parents (parents who did not have full-time, year-round jobs) decreased by 10 percent.

During the same time period, indicators worsened in the following areas:

  • Low birthweights. The rate of babies born weighing less than 5.5 pounds rose to 7.5 percent in 1997 from 7.0 percent in 1990.
  • Childhood poverty. The rate of children living in poverty increased by 5 percent, with 21 percent of the nation's children living in poverty in 1997.
  • Single-parent households. Single-parent households increased by 13 percent, with 27 percent of families with children headed by a single parent in 1997, up from 24 percent in 1990.

The high school dropout rate remained unchanged between 1990 and 1997, with 10 percent of teens aged 16 to 19 dropping out of school at the beginning and the end of the reporting period.

The Data Book ranks States based on the 10 indicators listed above. The Data Book also provides background information on each State, including data on:

  • Demographic changes
  • Family income
  • Child health and education
  • Child care
  • Juvenile crime
  • Access to phones, computers, and the Internet.

The complete 2000 Kids Count Data Book, along with other Kids Count data and publications, is available online at http://www.kidscount.org.

To order a print copy of the 2000 Kids Count Data Book, contact:

The Annie E. Casey Foundation
701 St. Paul Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Phone: 410-547-6600
Fax: 410-547-6624
Website: http://www.aecf.org

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