Report: Florida 37th in Overall Child Well-Being
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida is ranked 37th in the country for overall child well-being, according to a new report from the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation.
In one of the report's more dramatic findings, the Kids Count Data Book ranks Florida at 45th, near the bottom of the list compared to other states, in terms of the economic well-being of children.
Norin Dollard, assistant professor of child and family studies at the University of South Florida and co-director of Florida Kids Count, says there are some signs of progress in the new report as well.
"There has been a reduction in teen births, there are fewer teens abusing alcohol or drugs, fewer child deaths and fewer low-birth weight babies," she says. "That's all very encouraging."
According to the report, 24 percent of Florida children live in poverty – six percent more than at the beginning of the recession.
Florida declined federal funds to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, a move that Dollard says leaves too many Florida children uninsured. Despite the setback, she says there are other ways to lift families out of poverty.
"Medicaid expansion is important, but it's only one way to address this. Families need jobs that have access to insurance, and they need the skills to be able to get those jobs," she says. "It needs to be a multifaceted approach."
The report ranked Florida 27th in educational attainment. Dollard says there's been significant progress in fourth-grade reading, eighth-grade math and higher high school graduation rates.