Kids Count report says U.S. data ‘fall far short’

Posted July 28, 2009, at 8:50 p.m.

NEW YORK — Serious shortcomings in national data, including an outdated federal measure of household poverty, are undermining the task of identifying and assisting America’s most vulnerable children, according to a report issued Tuesday.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, in its annual Kids Count report on children’s health and well-being, says national efforts to track and analyze such trends “fall far short of what is possible, what is needed, and what is demanded.”

Maine lost points on six measures in the 2009 Kids Count study: the percentage of infants born below normal weight; the percentage of infant deaths; the teen death rate; the percentage of teens neither in school nor working; the percentage of children living in poverty; and the percentage of children living in single-parent homes.

Dean Crocker of the Maine Children’s Alliance said the losses are offset by fewer deaths among children, declining teen birth rates and a decline in the percentage of children living in homes where no adult has a full-time job.

“The drawback is that this data was collected between 2000 and 2007, before the cellar fell out from under us,” Crocker said, referring to the national economic downturn. He said rates of unemployment and poverty affecting Maine children probably will increase in next year’s report.

In composite rankings, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Utah ranked highest in this year’s Kids Count report, while Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama ranked lowest.

BDN writer Meg Haskell contributed to this report.

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