Kids Count 2012 – 2 Takeaways

The timing couldn’t be more perfect to wrap up our month-long focus on GIVE A CARE ABOUT KIDS!

The just-released Kids Count Data Book, complied by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, reports that Indiana’s child poverty rate rose to 22 percent in 2010.

Think about that: One in five children in our state is living in poverty.

The numbers are even worse in Indianapolis. The child poverty rate in Marion County jumped from 24 to 31 percent from 2006 to 2010.

Check out the report. It’s sobering, but worth the read. Here are two interesting takeaways:

  1. Poverty Matters        

 “On almost every measure, children who experience chronic or deep poverty, especially when they are young, face tougher developmental and social barriers to success,” said Casey Foundation President Patrick McCarthy. “Even brief experiences of poverty in early childhood can have lasting effects on health, education, employment and earning power.”

The report suggests that the most effective way to ensure that every child has opportunities to succeed is through a “two-generation” strategy that simultaneously strengthens parents’ work attachment, income and assets while investing in their children’s healthy development and educational success.

2.Community Matters

Where a child grows up can make a huge difference. “A low-income child living in a flourishing community—with access to health care, good schools, safe streets, strong civic institutions, positive role models and connections to opportunities—is more likely to thrive and succeed,” said McCarthy.

That same child living in a community of concentrated poverty—with high crime, poor schools, no access to doctors and environmental hazards—is far more likely to get off track in school, become involved with gangs or other negative peer influences and fail to transition to successful employment. Community investments that focus on the social and economic well-being of neighborhoods can provide a foundation for children’s futures.

Those takeaways ring true especially for our Better Indy Babies and Healthy Families staff, who are all about helping kids get a great start in life.

We commend the Casey Foundation for raising awareness about key issues that can lead to better lives for all Hoosier kids. The question is, what can we, here in Indianapolis, do to help our community flourish?

There are lots of challenges to consider. Neighborhoods. Transit. Safety. Jobs. Schools. Health.

Each of those is a big challenge, but each needs to be addressed in concert so that more families have more opportunities for a higher quality of life. We owe it to our kids to start the conversation.

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