WNPR

Study Says Connecticut is Among Top Five States for Kids

Jun 23, 2016

Connecticut is ranked fifth in the nation for overall child well-being, according to the latest KIDS Count Data Book. It's the first time the state has cracked the top five since the rankings began 27 years ago.

Connecticut ranked second in the nation for children's health, with improvements from 2008 statistics in low birth weight babies, child and teen deaths, and teens who abuse alcohol or drugs. Only four percent of all children in Connecticut were without some form of health insurance.

Connecticut ranked third for education, showing improvement in categories such as fourth grade reading proficiency and high school graduation rates, even among students from underperforming school districts.

Roger Senserrich, policy director for the Connecticut Association for Human Services, said the improved graduation rates can be attributed to the state's commitment to pre-K access.

"We are probably the leading, or close to the being the leader for pre-K access," said Senserrich. "And that shows longer term kids that have pre-school do better in the education system as they grow up."

But Senserrich said a change to the federal Care 4 Kids grant will mean fewer available pre-K slots for Connecticut children in the fall, and will have an negative impact on future graduation rates.

The news wasn't all good for the Nutmeg state. Connecticut fell behind in two categories: economic well-being, and family and community. There were more children living in a single parent family than in 2008, and more children living in high-poverty areas.

The state also saw more children living in poverty, at 15 percent, and more children whose parents lack secure employment.

The KIDS Count Data book is published yearly by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Based on this year's findings, the Casey Foundation recommends that policymakers increase access to pre-K programs, increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers, and provide paid family leave so low-income parents can have a better home and workplace balance.