Maine is Kid-Friendly
The latest Anna E. Casey nation-wide report, called Kids Count Data Bank 2016 has been released. It compares each state on 5 different measures of children’s well being: 1) overall child well-being, 2) economic well-being, 3) education, 4) health and 5) family and community.
Maine does pretty well, scoring 17th from the top overall, 23rd in economic well-being, 15th in education, 20th in health and 9th in family and community. Maine’s low population, rural nature and modest economy could have put us in a worse spot, but 17th is nothing to be ashamed of. Compared to other New England states, we bring up the rear, but are above Rhode Island overall. New England as a region is a real bright spot on the map, with the upper Midwest and northern Great Plain states also looking good.
Perhaps most striking is the north-south divide. Just about every southern state is in the 30s or below in all categories.
Nationally, the trends are towards improvements in healthcare, with the percentage of uninsured children dropping from 10% in 2008 to 6% by 2014 thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act. Lower percentages of low birthweight babies, child mortality and drug abuse are also noted. Maine has managed to cut teen smoking rates from 18.1% in 2009 to 12.8% in 2013, three percent below the national average.
Education is also an improving area, with only one measure, 3 and 4 year old children not in preschool climbing from 52% to 53%. Here in Maine we are still reaping the education rewards of former Governor King’s laptop program, which put laptops in the hands of every school-aged kid starting in 2002.
Economic well-being nationally is still a problem for children. Housing prices have recovered more quickly than incomes, increasing the child poverty from 18% in 2008 to 22% in 2014. Maine’s child poverty rate in 2013 stood at 17%. Teen births however have dropped, from 40 per 1000 in 2008 to 24 in 2014. Maine’s rate is 12 per 1000 according to this article in the Portland Press Herald.
Maine, with its odd distinction of having the oldest population in the US is ironically one of the best places to raise children. In the forefront of this claim is our close knit communities, where every child is known by name and adults consider helping out at the school as mandatory. Our highest score in the Anna E. Casey Kids Count report is 9th from the top in the family and community category. Not a surprise!