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Indiana in Middle of Pack for Child Well-Being

Almost one in 10 Indiana children is at risk of being overlooked as people are counted for the 2020 U.S. Census. (Pixabay)
Almost one in 10 Indiana children is at risk of being overlooked as people are counted for the 2020 U.S. Census. (Pixabay)
June 27, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana finds itself in the middle of the pack, ranked 28th among states in the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book released today.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation measures indicators of children's well-being, from health and education to family and community factors that affect kids' daily lives.

This year's report brings up another kind of data – the upcoming U.S. Census. AECF Associate Director of Policy Reform and Advocacy Laura Speer explained why accurate counts will make a difference in how nearly $3 billion is allocated for programs that help Hoosier families.

"There's about 4.5 million young children who live in neighborhoods where there's a high risk of missing kids in the count. And it's important, because the census will inform federal spending for the next decade," said Speer. "We really just have one shot to do this right."

Indiana ranked 15th nationally for under-counting children in the 2010 census, and 1 million children were missed nationally. An estimated 9 percent of children in Indiana live in hard-to-count census tracts.

Speer noted census outreach efforts face daunting challenges.

"There's still not a permanent director and we know that that's important," she said. "There's the need to fund state and local outreach for the census; and especially for the under-count of children, it's important to expand the pool of trusted messengers around the census."

And with more than 14 million children living in poverty nationwide, including 20 percent of Indiana's kids, she stressed that getting the numbers right is critical.

"We want to do right by all kids and make sure that they have strong families, strong communities and the opportunities that will help them to thrive. And many of the trends that we're seeing are really good, but there's still a lot of work to do," Speer said.

Compared with neighboring states, the Data Book ranks Indiana behind Illinois and Ohio, and ahead of Michigan and Kentucky.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN