Report: Florida rated highly for education, lower for child well-being



(The Center Square) — A recently released report on the well-being of children gave Florida high marks for education but ranked the state poorly for several other measures.

The nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual Kids Count Data Book, and while Florida ranked among the highest for education, overall health, well-being and economic security came near the bottom of the list.

According to the report, Florida ranks 30th overall, family and community in the Sunshine State was 30th, education was fifth, child health was 31st and economic well-being was 42nd.

It was found that key challenges Florida children faced during the 2021-2022 school year that impacted on school success included chronic absenteeism at nearly 35%. The other big challenge for Florida children was one or more adverse childhood experiences, which was nearly 43%.

The report notes that a National Survey of Children’s Health in 2021-22 found that approximately two in five children in the U.S., or around 40%, had undergone an adverse childhood experience.

These include a divorce or separation of their parents, economic hardship, witnessing domestic violence or neighborhood violence, death or living with someone who has a mental illness or a substance use problem.

The economic well-being data for Florida indicated that around 723,000 children in Florida lived in poverty in 2022. Approximately 1.1 million children, or 26%, have parents who lack secure employment, 1.6 million, or 38%, are living in households with a high housing cost burden, and around 70,000 children, or 7%, are teens not in school or not working.

Health indicators showed that Florida had approximately 20,354 low birth-weight babies born in 2022, along with 336,000 children without health insurance and 1,353 child and teen deaths per 100,000 people.

Family and community indicators showed that there are over 1.5 million children in Florida living in single-parent homes, 398,000 children live in homes where the head of household lacks a high school diploma, and 266,000 children living in high-poverty areas.

Lisa Hamilton, the president and chief executive officer at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said in the report’s president’s letter that the U.S. is not keeping up with education that will prepare children for the workforce in the future.

“U.S. scores in reading and math have barely budged in decades,” Hamilton said in her letter. “Many of today’s fastest growing occupations require high-level reading, math and digital problem-solving skills that we are not ensuring our children possess.

“Today’s kids will become this country’s mid-21st century workforce — and we as a nation have failed to prepare them.”

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