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SD Makes Measurable Gains in Children's Well-Being

A new report shows South Dakota's children rank ninth in terms of their families' economic well-being compared to other states. (
A new report shows South Dakota's children rank ninth in terms of their families' economic well-being compared to other states. (
June 17, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – In the past three decades, South Dakota has added 15,000 children to its birth rolls, and a new report shows those children would benefit from improved early childhood education.

The 30th annual Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT report ranks all 50 states based on 16 indicators, and South Dakota is in the middle, at 26th.

Carole Cochran, program director for South Dakota KIDS COUNT, says since the first Data Book in 1990, South Dakota has reduced its percentage of high school students who don't graduate in four years, and lowered child poverty rates slightly.

"I was pleased that we had improved from 29th to 26th, but I think the report also shows that we need to make some more investments to improve children's education and health outcomes,” Cochran states. “For example, about 64% of children cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade."

Cochran notes children who aren't proficient in reading by fourth grade can have difficulty learning all the way through 12th grade.

She adds that 62% of the state's children also are not proficient in math by eighth grade.

To rate child well-being the annual report looks at health, education, economic well-being and family and community.

Broadly speaking, children in all parts of the country had a better chance at thriving in 2017 than in 1990. But Leslie Boissiere, the Casey Foundation’s vice president, external affairs, notes that racial and ethnic disparities persist.

"Children of color, in particular black children, Native American children, and Latino children face significant barriers and obstacles that really lock in their potential and lock in their ability to contribute to communities," she points out.

One in five children in South Dakota live in poverty, adding to the total of 13 million children in poverty across the U.S.

Disclosure: Annie E Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD