Michael Crawford, a senior associate with the Child and Family Policy Center, says Iowa ranked third in the country last year, but he notes there’s very little difference in all of the states in the top ten, so “it isn’t a big deal” to drop slightly.
“It’s hard to really be too critical because we do a good job of raising kids in Iowa,” Crawford says. “We ranked 5th this year and we’re always in the top 10 so I think we do a good job. Just a couple of areas I think we need to really tweak and show some more improvement.”
The states are ranked on 16 criteria in four domain areas: health, education, economic wellbeing, and family and community. The figures are compared and contrasted using a host of data from 2010 through 2015. Crawford says he’d like to see Iowa improve in a few key areas.
“The child deaths and single-parent families have both seen a slight increase over that five-year period,” Crawford says. “Also, a couple of areas where we haven’t seen much of a change but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. The percent of children not in preschool has held steady, about 52%, and that means less than half of our kids, ages 3 and 4, are actually in a preschool setting.” Nationally, Iowa ranks third among all states in the economic well-being domain and in the top 10 in the three other domains: sixth in education, seventh in health and eighth in family and community.
“We’ve seen improvements in the students not graduating on time,” Crawford says. “In 2010, we were at 12% and by 2015, that’s dropped to 9%, so now less than 10% of our students are not graduating on time with their other peers in their class, so that’s a good sign.” The teen birth rate in Iowa improved during the first half of the decade, but child poverty levels have worsened or improved only slightly in recent years. Almost one-in-seven Iowa children still live in poverty.
The 28th annual Kids Count Data Book was released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.