Iowa moved up four spots in the annual “Kids Count” survey released today. “We moved up to 3rd this year, we were 7th last year, so obviously a move up four places is very good,” Iowa Kids Count director, Michael Crawford says. The survey by the Anne E. Casey Foundation looks at 16 factors believed to be an indication of how well kids are doing in each of the 50 states.
Massachusetts and Vermont were ranked one and two. Crawford says the move by Iowa shows how close the states in the top 10 are. “I think some of it is attributed to the policies we have in place as far as helping children — particularly in the health areas — we ranked first in the health areas of all 50 states, which is very good,” Crawford says. “But I think also some of it has to do with the fact that maybe the other states are slipping in the work they do, so I think it’s kind of a combination of those two things has helped Iowa move up.”
The 4 health areas ranked are the number of low birthweight babies, the number of children without health insurance, the number of child and teen deaths and the number of teens who use drugs or alcohol. Iowa also saw an improvement in all four education areas. “We’ve improved the number of children going to pre-school — which is a good idea, a good thing — fourth in eighth graders improving their proficiency in their reading and math scores, and our tests. And also, we are lowering the number of kids who are dropping out of school or not graduating on time,” Crawford says.
Iowa saw the state’s marks drop in some areas. “We’ll be seeing an increase in the number of children living in poverty, which is a bad sign. And also, the number of children living in single parent homes,” Crawford says. Also on the negative side, Iowa saw an increase in the number of kids living in a situation where housing costs are a burden and the number of teens not in school and not working.
Crawford says measuring the state against the rest of the country is good, but not the only way to find out how we are doing. “I think it is import also to keep in mind, not only to compare Iowa to other states, but to compare Iowa to Iowa,” Crawford says. “Maybe compare Iowa to where we were 10 years ago, to where Iowa is now and really not look at the others states to see if our policies and programs in place are really helping families.”
New Hampshire and Minnesota rounded out the top five in the survey behind Iowa. Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico and Mississippi ranked lowest among the states.
Learn more about the survey here: www.aecf.org