Data Book shows Louisiana kids have seen progress in teen birth rates and high school graduation rates, but continue to struggle with poverty
With 36 percent of Louisiana young children at risk of not being counted in the upcoming 2020 census, federally-funded support critical to children’s success are in jeopardy, according to the 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The latest Data Book ranked Louisiana 49th in overall child well-being, despite improvements since 2010 in nine of the 16 measures tracked in the annual report. Louisiana’s advancements in child well-being have been relatively modest in recent years, and have not kept pace with most other states.
In addition to examining data across a range of indicators of child well-being, this year’s Data Book highlights the troubling consequences for the nation’s kids with the likely undercount of about one million children under five in the 2020 census. Louisiana’s children are particularly vulnerable to being undercounted, with 36 percent of children under the age of five living in “hard-to-count” census tracts compared to the national average of 23 percent of children in the same age range. Only six states have a greater percentage of kids at risk of being missed in the count.
The 2018 Data Book shows that federal investments, when combined with state funding and commitment from state policymakers, can create significant improvements in the well-being of Louisiana’s children. Louisiana outperformed the national average on two measures that are heavily impacted by federal and state funding – the percentage of young children not in school and the percentage of children without health insurance. While 49 percent of Louisiana’s three- and four-year-olds still lack access to an early care and education program, the number would be far higher without federal funds and the state’s commitment to expanding preschool through programs such as LA4 and NSECD. Likewise, historically low rates of uninsured children are a direct result of federal and state support for LaCHIP and Medicaid.
The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains – health, education, economic well-being and family and community – as an assessment of child well-being. Louisiana ranks:
• 50th in economic well-being. Louisiana was one of just three states where the child poverty rate was higher in 2016 than in 2010. In Louisiana, 29 percent of children (314,000) lived in families with incomes below the poverty line in 2016, up from 27 percent (300,000) in 2010. Louisiana’s biggest improvement on an economic indicator was seen in the 21 percent drop in the percentage of teens who are neither in school nor working, from 14 percent in 2010 to 11 percent in 2016.
• 47th in education. The percentage of Louisiana high school students who don’t graduate on time fell by 28 percent, from 29 percent in 2010-2011 to 21 percent in 2015-2016, making it a bright spot for the state’s education indicators.
• 48th in the family and community domain. The percentage of Louisiana children living in high-poverty neighborhoods increased from 18 percent in 2008-2012 to 21 percent in 2012-2016.
• 44th in health. Consistent with national trends, Louisiana continues to make steady progress in connecting children to health insurance. Between 2010 and 2016, the percentage of children who are uninsured in Louisiana fell by half, from 6 percent to 3 percent.