- AL Reading Service
Alabama improved on several measures of child health and well-being in the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book, an annual report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, though the state lags compared to the rest of the nation. The study examined 16 indicators in four categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. Alabama saw improvement in 11 of those indicators.
Alabama came in 42nd nationally in overall child well-being in the report released Tuesday. That’s the highest ranking ever for Alabama, with one important caveat: researchers say because of changes in the survey, this year’s ranking can’t be compared to previous ones.
Alabama led the nation in one indicator: low rates of teen alcohol and drug abuse. The survey found just 4 percent of Alabama teens (12- to 17-year-olds) abused alcohol and drugs in the last year. Alabama came in second nationally with only 2 percent of children without access to health insurance.
While Alabama improved in many areas, it still ranks higher than the national average on some indicators. A quarter of children in Alabama live in poverty compared to the national average of 19 percent. Alabama also saw 38 child and teen deaths per 100,000 compared to 26 nationally.
“Alabama has made great strides over the last few years, however, we still have a great deal of work to do,” says Rhonda Mann, interim executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children, which is part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT network. “If we are not implementing new policies for systemic change that will move the needle, then child well-being isn’t improving regardless of the state’s ranking.”