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Report Shows PA Needs to Do More for Kids

More than 1 in 10 Pennsylvania children lives in a high-poverty area. (kmiragaya/Adobe Stock)
More than 1 in 10 Pennsylvania children lives in a high-poverty area. (kmiragaya/Adobe Stock)
June 23, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- There has been some improvement in the well-being of Pennsylvania's children over the past year, but many still lack health insurance and live in poverty, according to a new report.

The 2020 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows the Keystone State has slipped from 17th to 20th among states, across 16 indicators of child well-being. Kari King, president and CEO at the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, noted that while the state is in the top 10 for education, issues like the percentage of children living in single-parent households and families' economic well-being continue to be barriers.

"While we have improved slightly in terms of the number of children living in high-poverty areas as compared to last year, overall it's showing that we're not making enough progress," King said.

With 17% of children living in poverty, the state ranks 23rd in the nation for economic well-being and 26th in the category of "family and community."

The report showed improvement in 3 of the 4 indicators of children's health. But King pointed out that, across the state, there are still more than 120,000 children without health insurance.

"We're looking to develop some targeted strategies where we think there might be more impacted communities that aren't accessing health insurance," she said, "making sure that their parents are aware that coverage is available, particularly through the Children's Health Insurance Program."

According to the report, 4% of Pennsylvania children are uninsured.

King cautioned the data for the report was gathered before the COVID-19 pandemic, which means there could be some significant changes in the future that affect children's well-being - including access to childcare as parents return to work, and kids' health.

"A lot of well-child visits weren't able to occur during the pandemic, so we're seeing declines in places, like immunization rates," she said. "So, there's going to be a lot of work that a follow-up report later this year will highlight for us."

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA