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Nebraska's "A Pretty Good Place to Be a Kid"

The most notable finding of a new report is that 95 percent of children, in Nebraska and the U.S., now have health-care coverage. (Pixabay)
The most notable finding of a new report is that 95 percent of children, in Nebraska and the U.S., now have health-care coverage. (Pixabay)
June 13, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. – A report released Tuesday shows Nebraska is doing a nice job in ensuring its kids get the best start in life.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book examines key indicators of how children and families are faring across the U.S. and ranks the Cornhusker State eleventh nationally for overall child well-being.

Chrissy Tonkinson, the research coordinator for Voices for Children, says Nebraska is in the top half of states in the areas of economic well-being, education, families, and children and health.

"We did actually improve in most of the indicators, but we were right in the middle of the line for most of them; we're not doing much better or worse than the rest of the country," she says. "Overall, Nebraska's a pretty good place to be a kid."

The most notable finding, says Tonkinson, is that 95 percent of children in the U.S., and in Nebraska, now have health care coverage. The report credits key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, as well as investments in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, for the historic number of kids with health insurance.

Nebraska did especially well in terms of economic well-being, ranking sixth.

Tonkinson says policies like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit are resulting in fewer kids living in poverty, more parents having jobs and more families able to afford housing.

"Nebraska families - they work, they work hard," she adds. "We have one of the highest rates of parents who work in the country, as well as parents who work multiple jobs. So, our economic well-being score is indicative of how much we work; and then also, Nebraska is pretty affordable to live."

The Casey Foundation's Laura Speer, associate director for Policy Reform and Advocacy says data-driven investments and policies are crucial to ensure a promising future for the next generation.

"We've been tracking these measures for more than 25 years because we believe in the importance of really getting a clear, unbiased measure of child well-being over time," Speer says. "We want folks to use this information to make good decisions so that we can maintain the gains that we've been able to achieve."

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE