Pennsylvania’s children are not making any measurable gains in areas like health care, early learning or economic security, a lack of progress that has caused the commonwealth to slip three spots in the latest national rankings of child well-being.
The 2013 KIDS COUNT® Data Book ranks Pennsylvania 17th in the nation for its overall child well-being, down from 14th a year ago. Pennsylvania was among only five states to fall three or more spots in the rankings. The report underscores the continued toll the sluggish economy and deferred state investments in children have taken on the commonwealth’s nearly 2.8 million kids.
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children President and CEO Joan Benso called Pennsylvania’s drop in the national rankings “a warning sign that we cannot keep deferring investments in programs that benefit our youngest citizens.”
“Failing to invest in children during difficult fiscal times has very definite long-term consequences – and that’s what these rankings show us,” Benso said. “We are treading water when it comes to improving the well-being of our children and, unfortunately, this approach can drown opportunities for our kids.”
The data book released today uses 16 indicators to rank each state within four domains that represent what children need most to thrive. In this year’s data book, Pennsylvania ranked:
In many cases, Pennsylvania’s statistics did not significantly worsen, but other states improved, leading those states to climb ahead of the commonwealth in the national rankings.
For instance, the percentage of uninsured children in Pennsylvania remained relatively stable at about 5 percent in this year’s data book, but 21 other states managed to decrease the percentage of uninsured children and move up in the national rankings. As a result, Pennsylvania plummeted 14 spots in the health domain rankings.
Still, Benso cautioned: “If Pennsylvania doesn’t start showing a stronger commitment to investing in programs that help our kids, we might end up further down in these rankings in the years to come.”
The 2013 KIDS COUNT® Data Book can be found online at www.aecf.org.