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Arkansas Kids DO Count: What it takes to be #1
Arkansas Kids DO Count: What it takes to be #1
Posted by Paul Kelly and Kim Reeve on August 17th 2011



Arkansas Kids DO Count: What it takes to be ranked #1

It would be nice to tell others that the people of Arkansas care more about their children and youth than any other state. It would certainly be reassuring if Arkansas could claim that our children and youth do better than the national average. Families want to live, work, and play in places where their children thrive and prosper. Employers want their businesses in communities where employees and their families are safe, secure, and experience a high quality of life.  This year's release of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual KIDS COUNT Data Book is the perfect opportunity to stop and reflect on how the daily lives of Arkansas children and their families are impacted by our health, education, business and other institutions designed to meet their needs. It's good to take an objective view of how Arkansas children and youth compare to other states and to the national average.

Unfortunately, Arkansas is ranked 47th in the nation and has consistently ranked among the lowest states in these Kids Count indicators of child well-being. So Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has reviewed these measures of child security, health, safety and welfare, and then examined existing research to suggest how best to address areas of concern. We hope Arkansas policy makers and the public will focus on the solutions to the problems facing Arkansas children.

Children do well in strong supportive families, and families thrive in supportive communities. There is no "silver bullet" that will resolve the poor indicators of child well-being in Arkansas, because most of those indicators are interrelated. Areas such as family financial resources, access to health care, quality child care and more positive opportunities for youth to engage lifelong learning within the community must all be addressed. It takes cooperation among parents, neighbors, family members, child advocates, community leaders and elected officials to chart a course for change. It will come down to tough choices, primarily from policy makers who will have to be practical about making cuts in spending and increasing revenue in order to invest in the quality of life and economy we want for the future.

Kids Count Indicators of Child Well Being: What they are, what's our rank, what can be done to improve:

Low Birth Weight Babies: The percent of total births that were low-birth weight babies in 2008.
Arkansas Rate: 9.2% Rank: 41 ► #1 State: Alaska - 6.0% ► National Average: 8.2%

Where are we now?

Arkansas ranks 41st in the nation   with 9.2% of Arkansas's births, or 3,757 babies,  being low-birth weight babies.

What will it take to be the best?

To attain a 6.0% low-birth weight baby rate the state must decrease the number of low-weight babies by 1,334 births each year.

What will it take to achieve the national average?

To reach the national rate of 8.2% of births being low-birth weight, or a 1% reduction, the state must reduce the number by 431 such births

What can be done?

Increase access to prenatal

care and programs that reduce alcohol and substance abuse during pregnancy. Expand home visiting programs to high risk populations.

 

Infant Mortality: The infant mortality rate is the # of infant deaths under 1 yr of age per 1,000 live births in 2007.
Arkansas Rate: 7.7 per 100,000 Rank: 37 ► #1 State: Washington - 4.8 per 100,000 ► National Average: 6.7 per 100,000

Where are we now?

Arkansas ranks 37th in the nation with 7.7 per 100,000, or 317 Arkansas infants dying before reaching one year of age.

What will it take to be the best?

To attain an infant mortality rate of 4.8 per 100,000, 117 fewer Arkansas infants would have to live beyond their first birthday.

 

What will it take to achieve the national average?

The current national rate of infant deaths is 6.7 or one less per 100,000 than Arkansas's.

So if thirty-eight fewer infants died in Arkansas it would reach that national average.

What can be done?

Increase access to prenatal

care and programs that reduce alcohol and substance abuse during pregnancy. Increase use of home visiting models to help identify problems earlier and provide parent education.

 

Child Deaths: The number and rate of deaths per 100,000 children ages 1 to 14 in 2007.
Arkansas Rate: 28 child deaths per 100,000 Rank: 46 ► #1 State: Rhode Island - 9 child deaths per 100,000 ► National Average: 19

Where are we now?

In Arkansas 153 children age 1-14 died in 2007, giving the state a rate of 28 child deaths per 100,000 children that age..

What will it take to be the best?

To attain the top rate of child deaths, annual child deaths in Arkansas must decrease by 105, to only 49.

What will it take to achieve the national average?

Child deaths in Arkansas will have to decrease to 103, fifty-one fewer deaths a year, to reach the national child death rate of 19.

What can be done?

Proper use of child restraint seats, enforce primary seat belt laws, secure harmful substances and weapons to avoid injury, and  restrictions on the use of ATVs.

 

Teen Death: The teen death rate is the number of deaths per 100,000 teens ages 15-19 in 2007
Arkansas Rate: 93 deaths per 100,000 Rank: 45 ► #1 State: Vermont - 35 deaths per 100,000 ► National Average: 62

Where are we now?

Arkansas ranks 45th in the nation; 184 teens age 15-19 died in 2007 giving Arkansas a teen death rate of 93 deaths per 100,000.

What will it take to be the best?

To attain the top ranking rate of 35 teen deaths per 100,000 held by Vermont, teen deaths in Arkansas would have to decrease by 115, to only 69 per year.

What will it take to achieve the national average?

The number of teen deaths in Arkansas will have to decrease to 122, or 62 fewer deaths a year, to reach the national rate.

What can be done?

Policies that encourage teen seat belt use, increased access to teen substance abuse treatment, aggressive enforcement of graduated drivers licensing, expanded ATV restrictions, and expanded access to after school and summer programs.

 

Teen Births: The teen birth rate is the number of births to girls ages 15 to 19 per 1,000 births in 2008.
Arkansas Rate: 62 per 1,000 teens Rank: 46 ► #1 State: New Hampshire - 20 per 1,000 teens ► National Average: 43 per 1,000 teens

Where are we now?

With 5,940 births to Arkansas teens in 2007,  Arkansas's teen birth rate was 62 per 1,000

Teens, one of the highest in the country..

What will it take to be the best?

To attain the top ranking of 20 births per 1,000 teens, the number of teen births in Arkansas would have to decrease by 4,011 for a 67% drop in teen births

What will it take to achieve the national average?

The number of teen births in Arkansas will have to decrease by 1,958 births to achieve the national average of 43 per 1,000 teens, a 33% drop for Arkansas

What can be done?

Develop and provide access to coordinated school health and school wellness centers across the state and expand access to quality afterschool and summer programs that help reduce risk taking behaviors.

 

High School Dropouts: The percent of teens ages 16-19 not in school and not high school graduates in 2009
Arkansas Rate: 7% Rank: 29 ►#1 State: New Hampshire - 5% ► National average 6%

Where are we now?

Arkansas had 11,145 school drop outs in 2009 resulting in a rank of 29th in the country.

What will it take to be the best? To reduce the state's percentage to 5%, a total of 7,041 more teens would have to remain in school. That would be a 63% decrease in dropouts.

What will it take to achieve the national average? To achieve the national average of 6% a total of 1,452 more teens would need to remain in school, a 13% decrease in dropouts.

What can be done? Increase access to high quality pre-K, including infant and toddler care, and access to quality afterschool and summer programs and work -study opportunities. Examine school discipline policies.

 

Idle Teens: The percent of teens ages 16-19 not attending school and not working in 2009
Arkansas Rate: 10% Rank: 33 ► #1 State: New Hampshire - 5% ► National Average: 9%

Where are we now?

There was a total of 15,737 idle Arkansas youth in 2009, with 10% of teens age 16-19 not attending school or working.

What will it take to be the best?

Arkansas would need to reduce the number of idle teens by 7,388 (a 47% decrease) to reach the  top rate of 5%.

What will it take to achieve the national average?

The number of idle teens in Arkansas will have to decrease by only 1,615 to achieve a national average of 9%, only a 10% decrease.

What can be done?

Afterschool and summer programs that connect older teens with enhanced learning opportunities, workforce skills, technical education, apprenticeships, credit recovery education programs and workforce education.

 

Secure Parental Employment: The percent of children living in families where no parent had full-time, year-round employment in 2009
Arkansas Rate: 34% Rank: 38 ► #1 State: North Dakota 21% ► National Average: 31%

Where are we now?

In Arkansas 241,110 children, or 34 percent, live in house-holds where no parent has full-time, year-round employment.

 

What will it take to be the best?

Arkansas would need to reduce the number of children in these households by 94,102 children, or 39%,  to attain the rate of 21% currently held by North Dakota.

.

What will it take to achieve the national average?

Arkansas would need to reduce the number of children in these households by 22,018 children, or only 9%,  to meet the nation average of 31%.

How can we do it?

Education for life policies: Integrate workforce and career development into afterschool programs, vocational, local high school, and two- and four-year college educational goals. Increase the % of adults with a BA degree and increase literacy rates. Expansion of subsidized child care

 

Children in Poverty: The percent of children living in poverty is the proportion of all children under age 18 living in families with incomes below the federal poverty level. The federal poverty level for 2009
was below $21,756 for a family of two adults and two children.
Arkansas Rate: 25% Rank: 48 ► #1 State: New Hampshire 9% ► National Average: 18%

Where are we now?

This indicator is the leading predictor of child well-being in Arkansas. Arkansas ranks 49th in the nation with 27% of Arkansas children (189,198) living in abject poverty.

 

What will it take to be the best?

To lead the country in this critical indicator, 114072 of Arkansas's poorest children would have to rise out of poverty. This would constitute a 60% decrease in poverty for the state.

What will it take to achieve the national average?

To reach the 18% national average for children in poverty, 49,970 Arkansas children's family would have to increase their yearly earnings, reducing this number by 26%.

 

How can we do it?

Quality early childhood education, achievement gap reduction, progressive taxation, state level EITC, individual development accounts (IDA), access to reasonable credit, low-cost housing and supports for those families to ensure their economic viability.

 

Single Parent Families: The % of children in single-parent families in 2009
Arkansas Rate: 38% Rank: 43 ► #1 State: Utah 18% ► National Average: 34%

Where are we now?

Arkansas ranks 43rd in the nation.  253,233 Arkansas's children, or 38%,  live in single parent families.

 

What will it take to be the best?

Arkansas would need to reduce the number of children living in single parent families by 129,508 children, or by 51 percent, to attain the 18% rate in Utah.

What will it take to achieve the national average?

To reach the national average of 34 percent, Arkansas would have to decrease the number of children in these families by 28,335 children, or 11%.

How can we do it?

Communities should explore research based approaches that encourage strong marriages and reduce the number of divorces. Expand programs and policies outlined above that support working parents and address the underlying causes of poverty.

 

 



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Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families
Union Station - 1400 West Markham Suite 306 - Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (501) 371-9678 - Fax: (501) 371-9681 - Email: info@aradvocates.org