New Data Indicates Ohio Kids' Basic Needs Not Being Met
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The basic needs of Ohio's children are not being met, according to the 2016 Kids Count Data Book.
The data released Tuesday ranked Ohio 26th for overall child well-being, the first time in four years the state has landed in the bottom half of states. Dawn Wallace-Pascoe, director of data and research for the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio, said the state is not doing well in areas of economic well-being.
"Things like the child poverty rate, an increase in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma, and children whose parents lack secure employment," she said. "These are the areas where we need to be focusing our efforts if we want to get Ohio out of the middle of other states."
The child poverty rate of 23 percent has worsened since 2008, according to the findings. Wallace-Pascoe said Ohio did best in health and educational indicators, with improvement in rates of low birthweight babies, kids without health insurance and reading proficiency among fourth- and eighth-graders.
The report noted that a record number of teens in so-called Generation Z are avoiding bad choices that could impact their future. Wallace-Pascoe said this positive finding comes despite the challenges they've faced growing up.
"Economic stability of their families, high child poverty rates, living in high poverty areas," she said. "They've overcome those obstacles and are in fact managing to do quite well in some of the key indicators."
From 2008 to 2014, Ohio saw teen birth rates drop 36 percent, a decline of 38 percent in teen drug and alcohol use and a 29 percent decrease in the percentage of teens not graduating on time. To ensure families have the resources to help children prepare for the future, the report suggested expanding high-quality pre-kindergarten and early childhood services, increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers without kids, and implementing paid family leave.
The data is online at aecf.org.