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Wyoming Struggles to Catch Up in Children's Health


Thursday, June 25, 2020   

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- A new report ranks Wyoming 16th among states for the overall well-being of its children, down from last year when the Cowboy State made the top ten.

Micah Richardson, director of communications and programs at the Wyoming Community Foundation, said nonetheless, the state is doing well overall.

The annual Annie E. Casey Foundation 2020 Kids Count Data Book ranks Wyoming tenth among states for economic well-being. However, it continues to lag behind other states in such important areas as children's health.

"Year after year, Wyoming comes in pretty low in the health domain, and a huge reason for that is, children without health insurance are at a really high rate here in Wyoming," Richardson explained.

Wyoming's health score was consistent with other states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The Cowboy State rose from ninth nationally in the report's "Family and Community" indicators to seventh this year, with just 6% percent of children living in families where the head of household lacks a high school diploma.

The numbers in the Data Book are from 2018, so they don't take into account the economic fallout from the pandemic. The most recent recession had a big impact on Wyoming families, and Richardson said he thinks the data in this year's report can be a useful benchmark to measure recovery.

"It took 10 years to recover and get back to pre-recession levels, in terms of our economy," he added. "So, it certainly is going to have an impact, and we're really going to have to work together and come up with some creative ways to help families and children."

Most Wyoming indicators in the report showed improvements since 2010.

Teen births in Wyoming have declined by nearly half. The number of fourth-graders not proficient in reading dropped by 8 percentage points, and the number of child and teen deaths in the state dropped by 7 points.

The 2020 Kids Count Data Book is online at aecf.org/databook. The Wyoming data can be found here.

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