Vermont dropped three places, but remains among the nation's top five states for child well-being, according to the 2015 Kids Count Data Book, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a Baltimore-based child advocacy charity that "focuses on strengthening families, building stronger communities and ensuring access to opportunity," according to its website.
The foundation says the publication "focuses on America’s children in the midst of the country's economic recovery." The Annie E. Casey Foundation's website states:
The KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual publication that assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states, as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Using an index of 16 indicators, the report ranks states on overall child well-being and in economic well-being, education, health and family and community.
The report ranks Vermont 11th in economic well-being, 4th in education, 22nd in health and 3rd in the family and community domain.
Sarah Teel, research director at the Montpelier-based child advocacy nonprofit Voices for Vermont’s Children, stated in a press release that Vermont’s drop in overall rank reflects small changes in a number of indicators.
“We shouldn’t assume that this drop is significant, but nor should we pretend we are not susceptible to the same challenges we see elsewhere if we don’t keep our policy and budget priorities straight,” said Teel. “We may have lost some ground where other states have gained, but as always the important thing is to watch the connection between the data and policy choices that states have made, and their impact over time.”
The release also noted that, for the first time in a decade, a non-New England state ranks first for overall child well-being. Minnesota currently holds the top spot, followed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa and Vermont. Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, New Mexico and Mississippi rank lowest.
Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, stated in the press release, “Although we are several years past the end of the recession, millions of families still have not benefited from the economic recovery. While we’ve seen an increase in employment in recent years, many of these jobs are low-wage and cannot support even basic family expenses."
The foundation recommends policies that result in higher pay, paid sick leave, flexible scheduling and expanded unemployment benefits that it says will result in "higher family income, reduced parental stress and an increased capacity of parents to invest in their kids."