2007 KIDS COUNT Data Book

Massachusetts ranks fifth among all states in the just released 2007 KIDS COUNT Data Book that reports the well-being of America's children.  The 18th annual state-by-state study issued by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and distributed through Massachusetts Citizens for Children shows that Massachusetts improved in four out of ten measures that reflect child well-being, experienced setbacks in three indicators, and saw no change in three since 2000. The 2007 Essay discusses the need for all children in foster care to develop strong, lasting family connections and sets an ambitious national goal to preserve, strengthen, rebuild, or find permanent families for every American child who is at risk of not having one.  Key findings include:

Children in Poverty Continues.
Despite some improvement in economic indicators, the number of children in poverty and in low income families remains a persistent problem in Massachusetts. Fourteen percent (14%) of Massachusetts children are living in poverty - placing the state #11 in ranking - down from #10 last year. Seven percent (7%) of children are living in extreme poverty or at 50% of the federal poverty level.  Additionally, 31% of the state's children live in families where no parent had full-time year-round employment, an indicator that has remained the same since 2000.

Over 16,000 Massachusetts children are in need of a permanent family connection.
In 2004, 16,746 children under age 18 in Massachusetts lived in foster care at some point during the year, a rate of 11 per 1,000 children. That year, 731 children in the state aged out of the system without having a permanent family.  Nationwide, 10 children per 1,000 under age 18 lived in foster care with 22,718 leaving the system at age 18 without a stable family environment.

Massachusetts placed in the top ten nationally in six out of ten categories.
Compared nationally, Massachusetts ranked best in the country (in addition to CT, NE, ND, & MN) with the lowest rate of idle teens, had the 2nd lowest child death rate, the 3rd lowest teen birth rate, and had the 4th best rates for infant mortality, teen deaths, and high school dropouts.  While Massachusetts rankings for the percent of idle teens and the percent of teens who drop out of high school improved significantly, the percentages did not.  For example, in 2000, 6% of teens in Massachusetts were not attending school or working in comparison to 5% of teens in 2005-over 7,200 teens. 

Higher share of teens staying in high school.
Since 2000, Massachusetts saw the greatest improvement in its rate of teen high school dropouts, which improved by 38 percent.  The state's dropout rate decreased from 8 percent in 2000 to 5 percent in 2005.  The nation also experienced a significant decrease in high school dropouts, improving by 36 percent.  While Massachusetts has seen improvement since 2000, there were still over 7,200 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 that dropped out of school in 2005.

Teen death rate worsens in Massachusetts, improves slightly nationally.
Although its teen death rate was ranked 4th best in the country in 2004, it increased by 15 percent since 2000, up from 40 deaths per 100,000 to 46 deaths in 2004.  Nationally, the rate is much higher but had improved marginally from 67 deaths per 100,000 to 66 deaths over the same period of time.

No change in three categories.
Three economic indicators - secure parental employment, child poverty rate, and children in single-parent families - worsened nationally between 2000 and 2005, but remained constant in Massachusetts. 

Rankings at a Glance

#2 in Child Death Rate
Improved from 15% in 2000, to 12% in 2004.  Improved slightly  

#4 in Infant Mortality
Got worse slightly from 2000 to 2004. Improved slightly nationally.

#3 in Teen Birth Rate
Continued to improve nationally and in Massachusetts from 2000 to 2004.

#4 in Teen Death Rate
Worsened in Massachusetts from 2000 to 2004.  Improved slightly nationally.

#19 in % Low Birthweight Babies
Got worse slightly nationally and in Massachusetts from 2000 to 2004.

Massachusetts improved in four measures:
Child death rate from 15 per 100,000 (ages 1-14) in 2000 to 12 per 100,000 in 2004;
Teen birth rate from 26 births per 1,000 (ages 15-19) in 2000 to 22 per 1,000 in 2004;
Percent of teens who are high school dropouts from 8% in 2000 to 5% in 2005;
Percent of idle teens from 6% in 2000 to 5% in 2005.

Massachusetts declined in three measures:
Low birth weight babies from 7.1% in 2000 to 7.8% 2004;
Infant mortality from 4.6 deaths per thousand live births in 2000 to 4.8 in 2004;
Teen death rate from 40 per 100,000 in 2000 to 46 in 2004.

No change comparing 2000 & 2005 data:
Percent of children in poverty, 14%;
Children in families where no parent has full time, year round employment at 31%; Children in single parent households at 29%.

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