Massachusetts Third in Nation for Child Well-Being, But Many of Our
Children Face Difficult
Children in Massachusetts lead the nation in educational achievement,
and are at or near the top in a number of measures of health, but one
in six children live in poverty and an increasing number of our
children are growing up in very high poverty neighborhoods. These
findings and detailed data on a wide array of measures of child
well-being are presented in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2015 KIDS
COUNT Data Book released today.
The Data Book contains significant good news, particularly on
education. In addition to our children leading the nation in reading
and math proficiency, we are making real progress on reducing the
number of students dropping out. Now 14% of our students don’t graduate
on time – that’s too many, but it’s down from 18% on 2008. But we
remain a long way from providing each of our children with the support
they need to succeed. For example, we lead the nation in the share of
our children who are proficient in reading by fourth grade. But still
more than half of our students – 53% – are not reading proficiently by
fourth grade. We know that our economy and our society are stronger
when every child has the opportunity to thrive (more info: Roadmap to Expanding Opportunity).
While Massachusetts ranks at the top in educational attainments and
near the top in child health, on measures of family economic well-being
we rank 17th. Raising the incomes of low and middle income families
remains an important challenge for our Commonwealth (more info: The
State of Working Massachusetts). The recent increase in the minimum
wage, and the scheduled increases over the next two years should help -
as will the likely to be enacted increase in the earned income tax
credit. There is, of course, more that could be done to help working
parents succeed in the workforce be better able to support and nurture
their children. Working parents need affordable child care, a
transportation system that lets them get to work, and often education
and job training to improve their skills. There is strong evidence that
when the income of low wage families increases, their children are
helped not just in the short term, but also in the long term: they do
better in school and earn more as adults (more info: Massachusetts’s
Earned Income Tax Credit).
Read the 2015 Data Book HERE.
See all of our Kids Count Resources HERE.