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Wyo. Slips in Latest National Rankings for Child Well-Being

More than 95 percent of children now have health-care coverage thanks to expansions of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program under the Affordable Care Act. (Getty Images)
More than 95 percent of children now have health-care coverage thanks to expansions of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program under the Affordable Care Act. (Getty Images)
June 13, 2017

LARAMIE, Wyo. – While overall child well-being has improved for most kids and families across the country, many Wyoming kids are seeing conditions get worse. The state ranks 27th nationally for overall child well-being in this year's 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Wyoming slipped from first to eleventh in the report's economic category and ranks 50th for child health.

Samin Dadelahi, chief operating officer of the Wyoming Community Foundation, says the news isn't surprising given the state's loss of extraction revenues.

"One of the things that we need to make sure we do is that we try as hard as we can not make any more cuts in the investment of social services," she says. "When we make those cuts, the impacts are real, and especially in a low-population-density state like Wyoming."

While most states saw a drop in the number of children without health insurance, Wyoming had a jump of 3,000 kids in just one year. Dadelahi says one reason for the increase could be budget cuts that have resulted in the loss of jobs with benefits.

The report found 18,000 of the state's children live in poverty and ten percent of teens - up from 4 percent from last year's rankings - are not in school and not working.

The Data Book focuses on key trends since the recession and measures child well-being in four areas: economic, education, health and family and community.

The Casey Foundation's Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy, says getting accurate data to policy makers is important, and notes the foundation has been tracking these indicators for more than 25 years.

"Because we believe in the importance of really getting a clear, unbiased measure of child well-being over time, 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," Speer explains.

Nationally, the report found that 95 percent of children now have health-care coverage, a historic high, mostly due to expansions of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program under the Affordable Care Act.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY