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Maryland's Ranking Drops in Latest KIDS COUNT Book

A new report says Maryland could be doing more to ensure the health of its youngest residents. (Mike Baca)
A new report says Maryland could be doing more to ensure the health of its youngest residents. (Mike Baca)
June 13, 2017

BALTIMORE – Maryland has made some improvements in education, but according to the new 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more attention must be paid to children's health.

Maryland's health ranking for kids dropped from 22nd last year, to 30th this year. There are fewer low-birth-weight babies, but the percentage of young people abusing drugs and alcohol remained about the same, and the state has seen a spike in its child and teen death rate.

Nonso Umunna, the research director for Baltimore-based Advocates for Children and Youth, says the death rate has to be addressed.

"It's the highest it's been since 2012, and we believe that number should be looked at," he says. "And we believe that all this is connected, in terms of health."

The report ranks Maryland 12th among the states for education. In the 2014-15 school year, only 13 percent of Maryland high-school students didn't graduate on time. The national average is 17 percent.

Economically, the KIDS COUNT report says Maryland families are a little better off. The number of children living in homes with one parent unemployed dropped from nine percent in 2011 to six percent in 2015.

The most troublesome area, according to Umunna, is that some kids still lack health insurance - even as Congress and the White House push to trim these programs.

"We believe that as long as children have access to quality, comprehensive health care, their future is much more assured," he explains. "That's why we believe that Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program should be funded."

He says across the country, 95 percent of U.S. children now have health insurance, through the Affordable Care Act, and expansions of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD