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Report: Indiana's Child Death Rate Rises

Indiana ranks 14th in the nation among states for education, according to a new report. (Valerie Black)
Indiana ranks 14th in the nation among states for education, according to a new report. (Valerie Black)
June 13, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana has made a few strides in the overall well-being of its children, but there are some areas that need attention - most importantly, the child death rate.

The new 2017 Kids Count Data Book shows the number of young people dying in Indiana increased 11 percent from 2010 to 2015.

Tami Silverman, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, says no matter how many gains the state makes economically or educationally, the numbers are diminished if children's lives are at stake. She says the research pinpoints multiple causes for the increase.

"Cancer, birth defects heart disease, those kinds of things - but the two that we've seen a big spike in are suicides and homicides," she explains. "And where we rank as far as the number of teens who think about and attempt and complete suicides is just horrific."

On a positive note, the report says the percentage of Hoosier teens abusing drugs and alcohol declined nearly 30 percent.

Compared to other states, Indiana gained two percentage points over last year but was ranked 28th in the nation for overall children's well-being. The lowest numbers were in the area of health.

The state ranks 19th for its economy.

Silverman says housing costs have decreased and the number of children with health insurance has increased, contributing to families' financial stability. But she's worried about changes federal lawmakers might make, and says the state can't afford to backslide after the gains made through the Affordable Care Act, and expansions to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"We know that children that do have health insurance are more likely to get that preventative care - and not only physical care but also dental care - that lead to more of those longer-term success indicators," she adds.

Indiana ranked 14th in education. The report says more than 60-percent of eighth-graders are not proficient in math, and just as many fourth-graders aren't proficient in reading.

And, the percentage of Indiana three- and four-year-olds not attending preschool has remained fairly stagnant since 2009.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN