Kids Count report addresses return on investment for future of state's children
8:14 a.m., May 23, 2014--The well-being of the state’s children is critical to the future prosperity of Delaware and providing opportunities for all children to succeed is a smart way to ensure the state’s future, according to officials.
However, many children are not plugged into the networks of opportunity that make for a better tomorrow. When children face barriers to opportunity, it prevents them from realizing a better life and diminishes the contributions they can make.
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Each year, Kids Count in Delaware reports on the needs and conditions of the state’s children and families, including statistical trends. One of 53 similar projects throughout the U.S., funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count in Delaware is housed in the Center for Community Research and Service in the University of Delaware’s School of Public Policy and Administration.
On Monday, May 12, Lt. Gov. Matt Denn addressed leaders in child and family advocacy from throughout the state on the well-being of Delaware’s children and their families as Kids Count released the annual fact book.
This year, the fact book focuses on how Delaware, as a state, profits when it invests in children. It also emphasizes the importance of creating policies and programs that will benefit all children while targeting strategies and investments where attention is needed most.
The results of more targeted investments are stronger communities, the report notes, as well as better outcomes for children, their families and ultimately the state of Delaware.
Denn said the newest trend data for child well-being in Delaware show mixed outcomes. "The new Kids Count numbers show us that some of the efforts that we are making with our youngest children are beginning to show results, but they also reaffirm the importance of supporting projects such as the Nurse Family Partnership that help children overcome the impact of poverty,” he said.
The 2014 fact book uses data to illustrate encouraging trends such as a decline of low birth weight births (down to 8.8 percent in 2011 for Delaware) and dramatic progress over time related to reduced teen birth rate (18.2 per 1,000 15-17 year old females for Delaware in 2011).
The fact book also highlights areas of concern for children in the state including outcome inequities that exist related to health, education and economic status based on race/ethnicity, family income, gender or disability status.
Child poverty rates continue to increase in the state. One-fifth (20.6 percent) of Delaware’s children ages 0-17 lived in poverty in 2013; more than half (52 percent) of the state’s public school students qualify for free or reduced price meals, indicating that a large number of Delaware children live in low-income families.
A growing diversity of the child population and the segregation of a disproportionate number of poor children within distressed neighborhoods have contributed to the persistence of child poverty.
Alarmingly, the report says, there is an increasing void between children who are benefiting from meaningful investments, growing up in strong, economically secure families embedded in thriving communities and those children without access to these kinds of equitable resources. This reality only magnifies the need for people to make wise and purposeful investments in all the state’s children regardless of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or disability status.
Also this year, Janice Barlow, director of Kids Count in Delaware and associate policy scientist in the Center for Community Research and Service, introduced a new format for the 19th annual publication.
A digital book was officially introduced and showcased at the briefing, highlighting enhanced infographics, accessibility and use of the cutting edge technology. By putting data into action, Kids Count in Delaware and its partners at all levels of child and family advocacy are investing in the future of children, and ultimately the state.
Summer training sessions will be offered in Wilmington and a location in southern Delaware later this summer for those interested in learning how to utilize the new digital book to their best advantage.
Visit the Kids Count in Delaware website for information on these upcoming sessions and to learn more about the work of the program.
Photos by Doug Baker