National KIDS COUNT Index Ranks Maine 13th in Child Well-Being

Areas of Concern Include Economic Well-Being & 4th Grade Reading Scores

 AUGUSTA, ME. (July 25, 2012) – In the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 23rd KIDS COUNT Data Book, the child well-being index has been updated and expanded to create a more robust tool that better captures the well-being of children. Using this new methodology, Maine ranked 13th in overall child well-being among the 50 states.

The most significant change to the KIDS COUNT index is the creation of four content domains that capture what children need most to thrive: 1) economic well-being; 2) education; 3) health; and 4) family and community. Each of the four domains are comprised of four measures for a total of 16 indicators. Breaking the index into domains allows for a more nuanced characterization of child well-being that will help policymakers and advocates better identify areas of strength and weakness.

Maine’s Rankings Across the Four Domains & Overall

ECONOMIC WELL-BEING
RANK

EDUCATION
RANK

HEALTH
RANK

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY CONTEXT
RANK

OVERALL CHILD WELL-BEING
RANK

18

23

3

7

13

“Maine’s higher rankings in the Health and Family and Community domains are due to some of our successful statewide efforts, but we still have cause for concern,” says Claire Berkowitz, research & KIDS COUNT director of Maine Children’s Alliance (MCA). “The report shows that Maine’s families continue to struggle economically. And, with recent state budget cuts to programs like Head Start, child care and homes visiting, it is likely that the future success of our children and our state will be negatively affected.”

Economic Well-being: In 2010, 34 percent of Maine’s children had parents without full-time, year-round employment, an increase of 17 percent in just two years. Part-time or sporadic employment does not provide families with the level of income and benefits needed to meet basic needs like rent, food, and quality child care. Also in 2010, 18 percent of Maine children lived in poverty and one-third lived in households with high housing cost burdens (spend more than 30 percent of income on housing).

Education: From 2008-2010, more than 58 percent of Maine’s three- and four-year-olds were not enrolled in a preschool program. This is a slight improvement over 2005-2007, when 60 percent were not enrolled in a preschool program. Like their national peers, 68 percent of Maine fourth graders scored below proficiency in reading on the 2011 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP). Maine now ranks 31st in the nation on fourth grade reading proficiency; in 2005 Maine ranked 12th. Maine eighth graders improved their proficiency in NAEP math scores between 2005 and 2011, going from 70 percent below proficient to 61 percent below proficient. Also showing improvement, more Maine students graduated on time in the Class of 2009 (80 percent) than in the Class of 2006 (76 percent).

Health: In 2010, most of Maine’s children had access to medical care and preventative services because 96 percent had health insurance coverage. However, 11,000 Maine children still lacked health benefits. Between 2005 and 2009, the percentage of low birth weight babies decreased slightly from 6.8 percent to 6.3 percent of births. The national rate remained the same at 8.2 percent. In 2009, Maine’s child and teen death rate was 26.5 deaths per 100,000 children ages one 1 to 19, down slightly from 2005 when the rate was 32.2 deaths per 100,000 children ages 1 to 19. In the 2008-09, 7,000 or 7 percent of Maine teens abused or were dependent on drugs during the last year. This was a decline of almost 36 percent from 2005-06, when 11,000 or 11 percent of teens reported substance abuse or dependence.

Family and Community: In 2010, 90,000 or 34 percent of Maine children lived in single-parent families, up from 31 percent in 2005. Between 2005 and 2009, Maine’s teen birth rate remained stable at 24 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19. The national teen birth rate remained relatively unchanged at 39 births per 1,000 females in this age group. During the period 2006-2010, three percent of Maine children lived in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty, up from 1 percent in 2000. Finally, higher levels of parental education are strongly associated with better outcomes for children. In 2010, 6 percent of Maine children lived in households headed by an adult without a high school diploma, compared to 15 percent nationally.

The 23rd annual KIDS COUNT Data Book includes the latest data on child well-being for every state, the District of Columbia and the nation. This information will be available on the KIDS COUNT Data Center (http://datacenter.kidscount.org), which also contains the most recent data on hundreds of other measures of child well-being.


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