Oregon in Bottom Half of States in Latest National Child Well-Being Rankings

PORTLAND, Ore., June 13, 2017 — Despite a strong economy, Oregon has fallen behind a majority of states in the welfare of its children, ranking 31st in overall child well-being, according to the 2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The annual KIDS COUNT Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains — health, education, economic well-being, and family and community — that represent what children need most to thrive.

In education, with a ranking of 40, Oregon’s kids lag far behind. This is due to the third highest percentage of high schoolers not graduating on time in the nation and below grade level reading proficiency among nearly two-thirds of our fourth graders. Large class sizes and less time in school than other states are significant contributors to these outcomes. Pre-K attendance also was lower in Oregon than in a number of other states, as well as the national average, with 57 percent of children ages 3 and 4 not attending early learning or preschool programs.

“We must prioritize our children’s education if we don’t want to see our state fall further behind national trends,” said Tonia Hunt, executive director of Children First for Oregon. “The future of Oregon’s economy, civic engagement and way of life depends on the success of our next generation.”

According to the Data Book, Oregon ranks:
• 21st in the family and community domain. A steady decrease in Oregon’s teen birth rate since 2010 is a positive trend for Oregon’s families.
• 21st in health. Oregon continues to have a low rate of child and teen deaths and is below the national average for percentage of low-birthweight babies. Only 4 percent of Oregon children are not covered by health insurance.
• 30th in economic well-being. Despite low unemployment in Oregon, one in five children still lives in poverty.
• 40th in education. More than a quarter of Oregon high school students did not graduate on time in 2014-15, compared to 17 percent nationally.

“Investing in children works. For example, in 2009, Oregon lawmakers made a conscious decision to expand access to public health insurance coverage. Since then, uninsured rates have decreased. The KIDS COUNT Data Book shows that need more of that to improve education and economic outcomes for kids,” said Hunt. “Now is the time to make investments in Oregon children – not cuts.”

The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book will be available June 13 at 12:01 a.m. EDT at www.aecf.org. 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. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about the Data Book can use the KIDS COUNT Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org.

Oregon ranks 29th in the nation for child well-being according to new report

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About 1.7 million more children live in low-income families today than during the Great Recession, according to the newly released 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie. E. Casey Foundation. The total number of children in low-income families across America is now 18.7 million, or around one out of every four children. Nearly a third of children are living in families where no parent has full-time employment. And even when parents are working full time, wages and benefits are often not sufficient to adequately support a family.

In Oregon, which the report ranks as 29th in the nation for overall child well-being, the data shows that families continue to struggle to get by and face narrowing opportunities for success in the future. Despite a slight improvement in child poverty since 2012, child poverty remains more than 20% higher than before the onset of the Great Recession. Moreover, Oregon families face some of the highest housing costs as a percentage of income and more than one-third of children lived in a family in which no parent had full-time, year-round employment. In addition to families’ economic hardship, Oregon students were less likely to attend preschool, read proficiently by the fourth grade, or graduate high school on-time than their peers in the majority of other states.

“Without a change in the trajectory of the economic lives of our families and the educational success of our students, Oregon’s prosperity is at risk,” said Tonia Hunt, executive director of Children First for Oregon. “This legislative session we’ve made significant strides in these areas by ensuring a fair shot for all workers and making significant investments in quality preschool for our lowest income students. However, the size of the gap between where we are and where we as a state want to be requires even more concerted efforts and further investments in the coming years.”

Oregon’s lagging rankings in the areas of economic security and education stand in contrast to the progress the state has made in the area of health insurance coverage. Since the expansion of Oregon’s Healthy Kids insurance program in 2009, the state has cut its rate of uninsured children nearly in half – the largest reduction in the country over that time period.

“When Oregon lawmakers act on behalf of kids, we can make significant progress,” said Hunt. “And when voters speak, lawmakers will act. We need to speak loud and clear so that every child has the opportunity to succeed.”

The 2015 Data Book is available at www.aecf.org.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Children First for Oregon, founded in 1991, is a nonpartisan child advocacy organization, committed to improving the lives of Oregon’s vulnerable children and families. Its mission is to make long-term, systemic change by advocating for policies and programs that keep children healthy and safe, and strengthen families.