Child Care Access Hovers Over SD Child Well-Being Report
Wednesday, June 14, 2023
An annual report measuring child well-being in the U.S. said several benchmarks have worsened overall.
States like South Dakota fared better in the Kids Count Data Book rankings, but a regional policy expert said there is still work to do.
The research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation now includes firm data from post-pandemic years, giving policy groups and nonprofits a better sense of how childhood development was affected by the crisis.
Xanna Burg, director of Kids Count South Dakota, said just like at the national level, access to affordable child care is a barrier. She argued state policymakers need to act with more urgency to address the problem.
"What can we do to make an investment and rethink what's not working for our child care system?" Burg asked. "Rather than just trying to work within the current system, which we know has its shortfalls."
The report showed 10% of South Dakota children saw their families encounter job changes due to child care issues. Nationally, there were worsening trends in reading and math scores, and more kids whose parents lack secure employment.
For overall well-being, South Dakota kids rank 23rd. But Burg said 31,000 children in the state still live in poverty, and expiring pandemic relief could push numbers higher.
Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said around the U.S., more kids have access to health care, in large part due to federal policies in place, but added there is bad news.
"It's very concerning that we've seen an increase in the number of deaths of children and young people," Boissiere observed. "The primary cause, unfortunately, is suicide and gunshot wounds."
The report found there has been a significant increase in the number of babies born at low birth weights. In measuring the overall health of children, it was a trouble spot for South Dakota, which is ranked 36th in the country.
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