Utah’s Children Are Doing Good, Not Great

Wikimedia Commons (Althoff)

Wikimedia Commons (Althoff)

(KCPW News-June 24 2013)  Utah is ranked 14th in overall child well-being according to a new national report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  However, the state keeps sliding down in the rankings say Terry Haven, Deputy Director on the non-profit group Voices for Utah Children.

“In the 2009 data book we ranked 3rd. And over the last several years we’ve dropped and dropped and dropped. There’s not a whole lot change, I don’t think, in our data, so I think what’s happening is while other states are doing these innovative programs, are concentrating on children and families, we’re kind of stagnating in that area.”

The report looked at four categories: economic well-being, family and community, health, and education. Haven says in the economic domain, while Utah still ranks 11th in the country, the state worsened in every indicator. For example, 16% of Utah children live in poverty in the current report, which is up from 11%. And children whose parents lack secure employment rose from 19% to 25%.

In education, Utah ranks 30th. Haven says this is partially due to the 60% of children that don’t attend preschool in the state.

We’ve got research that shows that participation in quality preschool programs for at risk kids, makes a whole host of difference. I mean we’re looking at kids that started in preschool in our pilot programs in the Granite preschool programs, and by the time they’re in fifth grade, they’re testing up with their peers.”

The top five states are New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Among Western states, Utah ranks the highest with Wyoming coming in at number 15.