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Florida Ranks Near Bottom in Report on Child Well-Being

While Florida has made gains in getting healthcare coverage for children, a new report says many still live in poverty. (Pixabay)
While Florida has made gains in getting healthcare coverage for children, a new report says many still live in poverty. (Pixabay)
June 13, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – While an annual report ranks Florida 40th nationally in child well-being, there is a silver lining for the Sunshine State.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book examines key indicators of how children and families are faring across the nation. For the second year in a row, Florida comes in 40th nationally for overall child well-being.

But Florida KIDS COUNT Director Norin Dollard says the state has made significant strides in reducing the number of children without health insurance, which is now 7 percent.

"While it's still behind the national average, it's a definite improvement over the 13 percent who were not insured in 2010," says Dollard. "So, even holding onto those gains would be hugely important, and if we could even reduce those numbers further, it would make quite a difference for Florida's children."

Nationally, 95 percent of children now have health coverage. The report credits key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, as well as investments in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, for the historic number of kids with health insurance.

The report ranked Florida among the bottom states in terms of economic well-being, education, and health. Dollard says the findings show how, even years after the Recession, Florida families face persistent financial challenges.

"A quarter of all children - that's 23 percent of Florida's children - live in poverty, and a large proportion live in areas of concentrated poverty. And that has actually significantly increased over the last couple of years," she adds.

The Casey Foundation's Laura Speer, associate director for Policy Reform and Advocacy, says data-driven investments and policies are crucial to ensure a more promising future for the next generation.

"We've been tracking these measures for more than 25 years because we believe in the importance of really getting a clear, unbiased measure of child well-being over time," Speer explains. "We want folks to use this information to make good decisions so that we can maintain the gains that we've been able to achieve."

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - FL