A report by and Iowa group says a survey of 19 indicators shows the state has done a good job in many areas the last six years in meeting the needs of kids. Michael Crawford is the director of Iowa Kids Count. Crawford says the state has done pretty well, as about two-thirds of the non-economic indicators have improve. He says for example, the child death rate is down about 29-percent, infant mortality rate decreased about 19-percent and the teen birth rates are down and child immunizations have increased.
Crawford says not all the indicators were positive. He says trend in child abuse and neglect, low birthweight babies are continuing to worsen with no signs of reversing. Crawford says there are some economic indicators that have declined in comparison to the non-economic indicators. He cites some of the economic indicators that have gone up.
Crawford says food assistance has increased 81-percent from 2000 to 2006 and the number of people unemployed has increased 43-percent, while the number of children living in poverty and those who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches have gone up 21-percent. Crawford says there is work underway to try and improve some of the lagging economic factors.
Crawford says they’ve looked at the issues, as has the legislature and he says the increase in the minimum wage was one thing lawmakers did to help. He says there are some other areas where they can help low-income families, such as increasing the earned income credit.
Crawford says lowering the income level for state assistance with childcare would also help. He says this is very important for families who’re trying to work, as daycare costs are very high. Crawford says the survey looked at all 99 counties.