The new “Kids Count” report, which studies the well being of children nationwide, places Iowa near the very top of the latest list. The report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Iowa 3rd this year, up from 7th place last year.
The organization’s Patrice Cromwell says a variety of factors are weighed for the annual study in areas including income, education, health care and crime. “This report is focused on the fact that half of young children in America today are growing up in low-income families facing major hurdles and being denied the American dream,” she says.
One objective of the report is to break the cycle of poverty and move children toward opportunity. Cromwell says, “In Iowa, for instance, there are 85,000 children under the age of eight that are in low-income families that are struggling, both for parents to have access to income, access to quality child care in schools, and stress at home for parents figuring out how to juggle schedules and get food on the table.”
Cromwell, the foundation’s director of strategic initiatives, says one solution is to use the public, nonprofit and private sectors to simultaneously reach out to two generations. “What we’re proposing is not only investing in early childhood but investing in skills for parents at the same time,” Cromwell says. “So, when a parent brings a child to Head Start or early child care, that they then go upstairs or go to the neighborhood’s job training program or the community college and build their skills.”
The recommendations propose integrating state and federal employment, education and child care programs for parents and children to create better opportunities for the entire family. Iowa ranked third this year behind only Massachusetts in first place and Vermont, second. See the full report at www.kidscount.org