The 25th Edition of The KIDS COUNT Data Book, which assesses child well-being throughout the U.S. by examining national trends among 16 key indicates was released Tuesday. Once again Oklahoma has fallen near the bottom of the state rankings for overall child well-being. Oklahoma’s ranking dropped from 36th in 2013 to 39th this year among the 50 states; one of the largest declines in the U.S.
These KIDS COUNT indicators cross four domains: economic well-being, health, education and family and community.
The most recent trends between 2005 and 2012, show:
Economic instability is increasingly an issue for Oklahoma children. Three of the four indicators of economic well-being worsened and the fourth showed no change. More children live in poverty, more teens are not in school and not working, and more parents lack secure employment. While the severity of the national economic crisis over the past six years has undoubtedly had an effect on children’s economic well-being, there is still little sign of improvement for many children in the state.
Children are progressing slightly in the areas of education and health. All four education indicators covering milestones, such as preschool attendance and high school graduation, showed some improvements. Child health also improved across three of the four indicators. There were drops in child and teen mortality, teen substance abuse, and the percentage of children without health insurance. However, while small improvements were realized during this period, the state still lags behind most national averages, with Oklahoma ranking 41st in health and in education.
Fluctuation among Family and Community indicators persists. The teen birth rate is at a historic low and the state experienced a small drop in the percentage of children living in families where the household head lacks a high school diploma. However, there was an increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent families and the percentage of children living in high-poverty areas more than doubled. Even while teen births are declining, Oklahoma ranks 49th in the nation for teen birth rates, and the rising number of children living in high-poverty areas is of particular concern.
While other states have made strides in improving child well-being, Oklahoma remains below average on most key indicators. Poverty remains a persistent theme which must be addressed for the Sooner State to improve child well-being. To access trend data and explore other indicators of child well-being, visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center or download the 2014 Oklahoma Fact Sheet.