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Child Well-Being Report: More IN Families without Health Insurance

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Friday, June 25, 2021   

INDIANAPOLIS -- Like many other states, Indiana saw progress in improving children's lives before the pandemic, but an annual report said the crisis disrupted much of the positive momentum.

The new Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Book looks at key indicators for families with children, including economic stability, education and health. The analysis mostly relies on 2019 data.

The Hoosier State ranked 29th overall, with economic well-being and education as the bright spots.

Dr. Tami Silverman, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, pointed out the state hasn't fared as well in other areas.

"When we're looking particularly at health, we know we have a tremendous amount of room to grow," Silverman asserted. "And we have a lot of needs out there that we need to be addressing very actively."

For example, 37% of Indiana children between ages 10 and 17 are overweight or obese, which Silverman argued underscores the need to make sure all kids have access to healthy foods.

The report includes some post-pandemic data, showing a gradual increase in the number of families lacking health insurance, which reverses improvements the state had seen pre-COVID.

Nationally, the Kids Count Data Book showed some improvement in health coverage access after the pandemic's initial punch. Uninsured households fell to 11% in March of this year, compared to 13% last fall.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Foundation, said states like Indiana are examples of an uneven recovery.

"So, starting to see a little bit of recovery, and we're hoping those trends continue," Boissiere remarked. "But we do expect that, on many well-being matters, we're going to see a decline if we look at 2020 compared to 2019."

Both groups say policymakers should enhance investments in families and not revert to pre-pandemic spending levels. They say it would help ensure a more equitable recovery, given the racial disparities for BIPOC families historically, and in the past year.

A key action they feel Congress should take is a permanent expansion of the federal Child Tax Credit, now getting a one-year boost under the American Rescue Plan.

Disclosure: Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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