New national data shows that Idaho ranks among the best in the country for economic well-being, family and community factors, but it also shows increased rates of anxiety and depression among children and low education scores.
The 2022 Kids Count data is released annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to measure the health and well-being of children and families across all 50 states. The rankings are largely compiled through data from the US Census Bureau American Community Survey and the United States Department of Education.
Kids Count’s partner in Idaho is Idaho Voices for Children. Director Christine Tiddens said the data book is usually released in early June, but the delay surrounding the 2020 census has also delayed the data book’s release.
The Kids Count report includes 16 indicators divided into four categories: economic well-being, education, health and community. Out of 16, 11 Idaho indicators have improved since 2020.
“What I mean is that our defense is working,” Tiddens said. “It also shows that Idaho has done quite well during COVID and the recession, especially when compared to other states.”
Idaho ranked 14th in the nation for economic well-being, with 14% of Idaho children living in households with an income below the poverty line, down from 26% in 2008. state ranked ninth for family and community factors, with 24% of children living in single-parent homes, compared with 34% nationwide, and just 2% of children living in areas of high poverty. In 2008, 5 percent of Idaho’s children lived in areas of high poverty, compared with 9 percent of children nationwide.
The number of children living in a home with a caregiver who does not have a high school diploma also dropped from 12% in 2008 to 9% in 2020, and the teen birth rate in Idaho is less than half that of the 2010, dropping from 33% to 15%.
Data: Nearly 13% of Idaho Latino high school students attempted suicide in 2019
Tiddens said children’s mental health data is one of the most troubling aspects of the report, with the national number of children suffering from anxiety or depression climbing 26 percent between 2016 and 2020. In Idaho, the report found that 12.6% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 had anxiety or depression in 2020, up from 11.4% in 2016. Nearly 10% of Idaho high school students and 13% of Latin high school students attempted suicide in 2019, according to the report.
United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a youth mental health warning in December 2021 stating that the COVID pandemic has accelerated and exacerbated existing mental health struggles for children whose daily lives have been disrupted by the closure of schools and social isolation.
Tiddens said Idaho youth were similarly affected.
“Idaho youth have struggled with mental health for years. The growing number of children in our state suffering from anxiety and depression should be a red flag for leaders to take action on this important issue, ”Tiddens said.
Idaho Voices for Children policy recommendations to combat these numbers are to provide financial stability for children growing up in poverty, ensure access to mental health care for children, and strengthen mental health care resources for children of all ages. experiences and identity. Children who grow up in poverty are two to three times more likely to develop mental health problems, according to Idaho Voices for Children, and schools across the country often don’t have enough mental health professionals on staff to serve all students.
“Mental health is just as important as physical health in a child’s ability to thrive,” said Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in a news release. “As our nation continues to overcome the fallout from the COVID crisis, policymakers need to do more to ensure that all children have access to the care and support they need to cope and live a full life.”
The director of Idaho Voices for Children says the state should use the surplus to invest in children
In health markers, Idaho ranks 19th in the nation, with a slight increase in children with low birth weight and an increase in child and adolescent deaths and obesity rates. Since 2010, the rate of low birth weight children has increased from 6.8% to 6.9%, and the number of children and adolescents dying per 100,000 has increased from 28 to 30. The percentage of children aged 10 and 17-year-olds who are overweight or obese have increased from 24% to 29% since 2016, the data show, which is still slightly below the national average of 32%.
The only positive indicator among health trends is uninsured children, which declined from 11% in 2008 to 5% in 2020. Tiddens sees this as a victory linked to the expansion of Medicaid in Idaho, which he supported through Idaho Voices for children.
Idaho ranked lowest in terms of education indicators in 36th place. Since 2008, the number of children who are not enrolled in kindergarten has dropped from 66% to 64%, which means that just under two-thirds of Idaho children are not of preschool age. This is compared to 53% of children between the ages of 3 and 4 nationwide who do not attend kindergarten.
The number of fourth-graders in Idaho who are not proficient in reading dropped from 68% in 2009 to 63% in 2019, up from 66% nationwide. But the number of Idaho eighth graders who aren’t proficient in math has increased slightly from 62% to 63%, and the number of high school students in Idaho who don’t graduate on time is 19% compared to 14. % nationwide.
Tiddens said these indicators could be improved by taking advantage of Idaho’s record surplus.
“We know what it takes to have healthy and prosperous children and our state has the economic power to make significant investments in our next generation,” said Tiddens.