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Report Ranks Utah 11th for Child Well-Being

PHOTO: Utah ranks 11th in the nation for the overall well-being of its children, according to data released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Photo courtesy Fairfax County, VA.
PHOTO: Utah ranks 11th in the nation for the overall well-being of its children, according to data released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Photo courtesy Fairfax County, VA.
July 24, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah ranks eleventh in the nation for the overall well-being of its children and financial health of their families, according to the latest Kids Count Data Book rankings from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, released this week.

The research considers multiple indicators of a child's economic stability, health and education, as well as family and community, and it includes some areas of concern for Utah. Terry Haven, deputy director of Voices for Utah Children, says what alarms her most is that nearly two-thirds of young children in the state are not enrolled in preschool.

"We know that children who come to school, come to kindergarten ready to learn, ready to head off on their educational path, are going to do a lot better than those children who don't," says Haven.

Haven says Utah ranks 29th in the nation for enrollment of three- and four-year-old children in preschool programs.

She says a significant amount of research shows that a high-quality early education can play a major role in a child's long-term educational and lifetime success. Haven adds that Utah's ability to compete in a growing global economy is at stake.

"Having a educated workforce is crucial in terms of making sure that our economy grows – that we as a state keep moving forward," she says. "It's a win-win situation for everyone."

Haven notes that Utah's preschool attendance may increase because of a new state law providing more funding for early education. Massachusetts ranks number one in the Kids Count Data Book, while Mississippi is ranked last.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT