kidscount logo2008 Massachusetts KIDS COUNT Data Book

Massachusetts' Ranking on Child Well-being
Moves up to 3rd Best in the Country

There's good news for Massachusetts children.  The 2008 National KIDS COUNT Data Book released today by Massachusetts Citizens for Children and the Annie E. Casey Foundation reveals that the state ranks among the top three in the U.S. on ten indicators of child well being.  For example:

  • Massachusetts places in top ten in seven of ten categories: Massachusetts ranks 2nd best in child death rate, high school dropout rate, and percentage of teens not attending school and not working; has the 3rd lowest teen death and teen birth rates; and the 4th lowest infant mortality rate.
  • High school dropout rate improves by fifty percent in Massachusetts: Massachusetts teens ages 16-19 who are high school dropouts improved by 50 percent, from 8 percent in 2000 to 4 percent in 2006. Nationally, the percentage of high school dropouts decreased by 36 percent, from 11 percent to 7 percent, during the same period.
  • Child death rate decreases in Massachusetts: The child death rate decreased by 33 percent, dropping from 15 deaths per 100,000 children ages 1-14 in 2000 to 10 deaths per 100,000 children in 2005. Massachusetts ranks 2nd in the nation on this indicator.
  • Massachusetts' youth custody rate is lower than the national rate: In 2006, Massachusetts' rate of detained and committed youth in custody was 77 per 100,000 youth ages 10-15, compared to 125 per 100,000 youth nationwide. That year, the estimated daily count of detained and committed youth in custody was 1,164 youth. Of these youth, 55 percent were in custody for non-violent offenses.
There are two areas where Massachusetts could do much better:
  • Child poverty is still unacceptably high for this rich state. Despite Massachusetts' high per capita income, there are still 178,000 or 12% of its children living in poverty, with 82,000 living in extreme poverty. A Kids Count report on child poverty in the state will be released this fall by Massachusetts Citizens for Children that will discuss what the group labels "Massachusetts' poverty paradox." It will push for policies and a timetable aimed at targeted reductions in child poverty to ensure that all of the state's children are benefitting from the rich opportunities the state has to offer.
  • More low-birthweight babies in Massachusetts: The percentage of low-birthweight babies in Massachusetts increased by 11 percent, from 7.1 percent in 2000 to 7.9 percent in 2005. Massachusetts ranks 20th in the nation on this indicator. Recent increases in multiple births have recently influenced the rise in low-birthweight babies. This is due to the increase in older women having babies, as well as increased use of artificial reproductive technology. However, there have also been increases in low-birthweights among single births and there continues to be wide gaps in this indicator along racial and ethnic lines.
  • The 2008 National Kids Count Data Book Essay discusses youth who are involved in state juvenile justice systems and highlights new approaches to detention reform, such as the Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) one of which is operating in Massachusetts. The essay also challenges local and state level institutions to develop a starting point to reduce unnecessary and inappropriate detention and incarceration to further increase opportunities for positive youth development.

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