Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Kids Count Report Measures Child Well-Being

Three states with large Latino populations lingered in the bottom five states ranked in the annual Kids Count report on child well-being — New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. Mississippi ranked last.

Overall, states in the Southwest with high poverty rates and large Latino populations tended to be near the bottom.

The Southeast and Appalachia also lingered near the bottom.

The annual report and data book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzes indicators in four main areas: economic well-being, education, health, and family/community. Kids Count has ranked states on well-being since 1990.

First, the positive news: Hispanic children are more likely to be born at healthy birth weights than other groups.

However, Latino children are more likely to live in a home where the head of the household lacks a high school diploma. In 2012, about 36 percent of Hispanic children lived in homes where the head lacked a high school diploma — compared with a national average of 15 percent.

While more 3- and 4-year-olds are attending preschool than in years past, Latino children are the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to enroll in preschool. About 63 percent of Latino children were not in preschool between 2010 and 2012, compared with a national average of 54 percent.

Declining child well-being is attributed to factors such as the increase in single mothers, who are more likely to live in poverty. In addition to shifts in family structure, the report describes that parents lacking a college degree also struggle more to find well-paying jobs than in decades past.

One of the bright spots in the report has been improved health and declining mortality rates, attributed to medical advances and increased access to insurance. The teen birth rate is also declining.

Individual state reports are available online.