INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book is out and Indiana is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to the well-being of children.
One local advocacy group says it means Hoosier children are surviving but not thriving.
Each year the Annie E. Casey Foundation measures well-being by looking at several key areas including education, health, economic and community factors.
Indiana is ranked 28th this year in the KIDS COUNT Data Book. States in the northeast rank the highest with New Hampshire and Massachusetts topping the list and New Mexico and Mississippi are ranked the lowest.
Claiming the 28th spot is an improvement from last year, up two spots. The 30th ranking in 2016 was a two spot improvement from 2015 as well, so Indiana is heading in a good direction in some areas.
Teen substance abuse in Indiana has dropped by 30 percent, according to the KIDS COUNT Data Book. Children with health insurance has improved to 93 percent and fewer families have a high housing burden, which is spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs.
“We’re encouraged by a lot of the strides that we’ve seen, but we really need to be realistic about the fact that there’s a lot more to do. We know that our kids need more support and we need to do more to make sure they’re living up to their full potential and that they’re living happy, healthy and productive lives,” said Indiana Youth Institute President and CEO Tami Silverman.
The teen death rate increased by 11 percent from 2010 to 2015, leaving Indiana in the 37th spot for that area. Also, 13 percent are still living in poverty. It might seem like a small number, but it’s actually more than 200,000 children.
Education continues to be an area where the Hoosier State does not measure up. 61 percent of Indiana eighth graders are not proficient in math and 60 percent of fourth graders are not reading at the proper level. Also, the amount of three and four-year-olds attending school has remained pretty much flat since 2009.