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Iowa Ranks Fifth in 2018 National Child Well-Being Report

A new report shows only 3 percent of Iowa's children were without health care coverage in 2017. (Pixabay)
A new report shows only 3 percent of Iowa's children were without health care coverage in 2017. (Pixabay)
June 27, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa – A report released today on child well-being across the country says the news is mostly good for Iowa kids when it comes to such factors as education, community, and health and family.

The Annie E. Casey 29th annual report – known as the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book – ranks Iowa fifth overall, and fourth among states for economic well-being.

It's also in the top 10 for three other domains, ranked seventh in education, eighth in health and eighth in family and community.

Michael Crawford, director of Iowa KIDS COUNT, says the positive rankings reflect the value Iowa places on its children.

"We've worked to ensure all Iowa children have health care coverage," Crawford says. "We're down to 3 percent that are not covered, which is a very low rate – which ranks us very high."

Iowa's teen birth rate declined 41 percent from 2010 to 2016, and there was a 25-percent improvement in children with health insurance and teens who graduate on time from high school.

Going forward, Crawford would like to see an improvement in the financial threshold for Iowa families to be eligible for child-care assistance. He's concerned the state is falling behind in making sure families can afford preschool, which he believes is vital to kids being ready for first grade.

"Unfortunately, that ranks us 45th of the 50 states; we're very low in our ranking on that particular issue," he said. "So, we'd like to have some more funding for that program to help families, particularly poorer families, to make sure their kids are in a child-care program."

Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says the report shows the number of Iowa children living in poverty has increased to one in seven kids, and is even higher for children of color.

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

The report also highlights the need to ensure the 2020 U.S. Census is accurate. The young-child under-count has gotten worse with every census since 1980, which can cause communities to lose funding for programs designed to help children.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA