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Report: SD Has Room for Improvement on Child Well-Being

A new report on child well-being ranks South Dakota 21st overall compared to other states. (Soledadsnp/PIxabay)
A new report on child well-being ranks South Dakota 21st overall compared to other states. (Soledadsnp/PIxabay)
June 13, 2017

PIERRE, S. D. – An annual report ranking states based on children's well-being reveals high and low points for South Dakota kids.

Released today, the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks the Mount Rushmore State 21st in the nation on key indicators of how children and families are faring.

Carol Cochran, project director for South Dakota KIDS COUNT, says the state has made gains, such as reducing the number of uninsured children since 2010. The current uninsured rate is about 7 percent. However, the report also reveals an increase in the rate of teen deaths.

"(In) 2009, there were 39 teen deaths per 100,000 children ages 1 to 19," says Cochran. "Now we are up to 41, and our ranking now is 49th among all the states."

She adds the increase is most likely due to unsafe driving, and hopes the state can work to address it.

South Dakota ranked high in the economic category at 10th in the nation, showing that many families are prospering financially. But its rankings are 32nd and 33rd for education and health indicators, respectively.

According to Cochran, the state is beginning to address the high rate of young children not in school – about 61 percent, much higher than the national average of 53 percent.

She says the state also is working on health-care, an important metric of children's well-being. As she puts it, "We know that if children have some form of health insurance, it is beneficial to the whole family."

Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy with the Casey Foundation, says it's important to track this data because it can ultimately drive policy and help lawmakers invest in what works for kids.

"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."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - SD