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A new KIDS COUNT® report ranks Pennsylvania 14th in the nation for its overall child well-being, but it also highlights the heavy toll the sluggish economy has taken on the commonwealth’s kids.

The KIDS COUNT® Data Book, issued today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows about one-fifth of Pennsylvania’s children lived in poverty in 2010, while nearly a third of children were in families in which no parent had full-time, year-round employment.

“While Pennsylvania’s overall national ranking is promising, we clearly have room for improvement in our efforts to provide economic security for our children,” said Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) President and CEO Joan Benso.

This year’s data book uses 16 indicators to rank each state within four Domains. Pennsylvania ranked as follows:

  • 8th in the education domain, which looks at preschool opportunities, reading and math proficiency, and whether high school students graduate on time.
  • 8th in the health domain, which looks at the percentage of children who lack health insurance, child and teen death rates, low-birth weight babies, and alcohol or drug abuse among teens.
  • 17th in the economic well-being domain, which examines data related to child poverty, family employment, housing costs and whether older teens not in school are working.
  • 23rd in the family and community domain, which examines the percentage of children living in high-poverty areas, single-parent households and education levels among heads of households, as well as teen birth rates.

Benso noted Pennsylvania had a relatively strong showing in the education and health domains in part because state leaders have made those issues priorities over the years. Over its 20-year history, PPC has worked with policymakers to provide universal health care coverage for children and provide greater access to high-quality early childhood education, both of which helped bolster Pennsylvania’s rankings in the latest data book.

“The challenge moving forward will be not only to improve in the areas where we lag, but also to make sure we don’t backslide from our strong rankings in areas like children’s health insurance and early childhood education,” Benso said.

The 2012 KIDS COUNT® Data Book uses several new indicators of child well-being that are meant to provide policymakers and advocates with more robust information than was available in prior years. As a result of these changes, the rankings in the 2012 report should not be compared to rankings in prior years, which relied on a smaller set of just 10 indicators.

The new, expanded set of indicators puts a more balanced emphasis on education and family and community factors than existed in prior years.

The 2012 KIDS COUNT® Data Book can be found online at www.aecf.org.

CONTACT: Michael Race
717-236-5680
mrace@papartnerships.org

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