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Report: OR Can 'Be Better' Than Middle of Pack on Child Well-Being


Monday, June 21, 2021   

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Child well-being in Oregon was a mixed bag before the pandemic, according to a new report.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT data out today looked at indicators in economics, education, health and community from 2019. It ranked Oregon in the middle, at 25th overall.

Jenifer Wagley, executive director of Our Children Oregon, said the state should celebrate policy wins like its effort to cover kids with health insurance, and argued it showed Oregon can make other policy decisions that work for children.

"We know that Oregon can be better than middle of the pack, and that's what we're fighting for," Wagley stated. "We think that Oregon should be a place where every child thrives and can achieve their full potential, and we know the investments that are needed to make that possible."

Oregon still lags in education, ranking 40th. Wagley pointed out the state is improving when it comes to students graduating on time, but still is in the bottom five of states.

She also noted investments will be important as the state recovers from the pandemic, and policymakers need to make sure the recovery isn't uneven for communities of color.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Foundation, said Congress passed pandemic relief quickly, including a year-long expansion of the Child Tax Credit within the American Rescue Plan Act.

She emphasized permanently expanding the tax credit would deliver the financial support families need and reduce long-standing disparities affecting millions of families of color.

"It's expected to raise as many as half of children who are currently living below the poverty line to living above the poverty line," Boissiere explained.

Wagley added the country should make the child tax credit from the last recovery bill permanent, noting the policy drastically reduces child poverty. She stressed the pandemic provides an opportunity to make the lives of families better.

"We don't want to go back to the way it was because it wasn't OK for most families then," Wagley remarked. "And so now we want to reimagine and rebuild toward an equitable future where all children have what they need to thrive."

Disclosure: Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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