Massachusetts Third in Nation for Child Well-Being, But Many of Our Children Face Difficult Challenges
Children in Massachusetts lead the nation in educational achievement, and are at or near the top in a number of measures of health, but one in six children live in poverty and an increasing number of our children are growing up in very high poverty neighborhoods. These findings and detailed data on a wide array of measures of child well-being are presented in the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book released today.
The Data Book contains significant good news, particularly on education. In addition to our children leading the nation in reading and math proficiency, we are making real progress on reducing the number of students dropping out. Now 14% of our students don't graduate on time - that's too many, but it's down from 18% on 2008. But we remain a long way from providing each of our children with the support they need to succeed. For example, we lead the nation in the share of our children who are proficient in reading by fourth grade. But still more than half of our students - 53% - are not reading proficiently by fourth grade. We know that our economy and our society are stronger when every child has the opportunity to thrive (more info: Roadmap to Expanding Opportunity).
While Massachusetts ranks at the top in educational attainments and near the top in child health, on measures of family economic well-being we rank 17th. Raising the incomes of low and middle income families remains an important challenge for our Commonwealth (more info: The State of Working Massachusetts). The recent increase in the minimum wage, and the scheduled increases over the next two years should help - as will the likely to be enacted increase in the earned income tax credit. There is, of course, more that could be done to help working parents succeed in the workforce be better able to support and nurture their children. Working parents need affordable child care, a transportation system that lets them get to work, and often education and job training to improve their skills. There is strong evidence that when the income of low wage families increases, their children are helped not just in the short term, but also in the long term: they do better in school and earn more as adults (more info: Massachusetts's Earned Income Tax Credit).
Read the 2015 Data Book HERE.
See all of our Kids Count Resources HERE.