Data released today in the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation show that Oregon remains in the bottom half of all states in overall child well-being. The KIDS COUNT Data Book is an annual publication that measures, over time, key indicators of child well-being nationally and on a state-by-state basis. This year’s Data Book shows that over the past six years, Oregon’s economic, health, and community rankings have improved, but too many children still are not getting what they need.
Oregon has made progress in economic well-being, rising from 41st in the nation in 2016 to 30th in 2017. Over the past six years, the number of children in poverty, children whose parents lack secure employment, and children living in households with a high housing cost burden have all declined. While these gains signal positive trends, one in five children remain in poverty. Over one in three Oregon kids live in households that struggle to pay rent. Despite Oregon’s strong economy, too many children are being left behind.
Oregon ranks in the top quarter of states in health. The state continues to have low rates of child and teen deaths and low-birthweight babies, as well as historically high rates of health insurance coverage for children. The number of children without health insurance has dropped from 5% in 2014 to 4% in 2015. This achievement is largely attributed to continued investments at the federal and state levels in expanding access to health care coverage.
Stubbornly low graduation rates place Oregon at the very bottom of states in education, with 26% of high school students not graduating on time. This number is even more alarming for many students of color — nearly half of Native American students and over a third of African American students aren’t graduating on time. Despite the state’s overall low ranking in this area, Oregon is in the top quarter of states for year-to-year improvement.
In many respects, Oregon has taken a step forward, but it is up to policymakers to ensure that our state does not turn back on these improvements. Upward trends in economic well-being, health, and community reflect smart investments and policy solutions. But many Oregon kids still have catching up to do. The future of our state’s economy, civic engagement, and way of life hinges on Oregon’s commitment to forging the path forward for all children in the state.
Additional information is available at www.aecf.org/databook, which also contains the most recent national, state, and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being.