Report: ID Child Well-Being Improves; Mental Health Top Concern
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Idaho has made improvements to help the lives of children, according to a new report.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released its annual Kids Count Data Book, measuring state policies for children based on four areas: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. The report ranks Idaho 18th overall.
Christine Tiddens, director of Idaho Voices for Children, notes the report contained positives and negatives for the state.
"We did well, or at least, better than other states, through COVID and the economic downturn," Tiddens pointed out. "But we do have low rankings in several key areas, such as health, that are bringing us down and an area that we're really focusing on."
The data was collected from 2020, the first year of the pandemic. The report ranks Idaho 14th for economic well-being, with the data showing the number of children in poverty in the state has decreased over the past decade to 14%.
But the report also showed mental-health issues increased among children and teens across the country in the first year of the pandemic. In Idaho, one in eight reported experiencing anxiety or depression in 2020.
Tiddens said unfortunately, it is no surprise.
"We know that Idaho youth have struggled with mental health for years," Tiddens acknowledged. "It's just the rising numbers that we've seen over the last couple of years should be a red flag, for all of us who are looking at policies and system investments."
Tiddens added her organization has recommendations for addressing the youth mental-health crisis, starting with increasing care services in schools.
"Getting mental-health professionals on staff, and making sure that we are working with local health providers, to ensure that there's resources and investments available for schools to be able to do this," Tiddens outlined.
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