The new “Kids Count” report, which studies the wellbeing of children nationwide, finds Nebraska slipping slightly, but still ranking in the top ten.
The report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Nebraska 10th this year, down from eighth place last year.
The organization’s Patrice Cromwell says a variety of factors are weighed for the annual study in areas including income, education, health care and crime.
“This report is focused on the fact that half of young children in America today are growing up in low-income families facing major hurdles and being denied the American dream,” she says.
One objective of the report is to break the cycle of poverty and move children toward opportunity.
“Nebraska is still struggling with getting post-secondary education for parents,” she says. “If you look at 69% of the families that don’t have an associate degree or higher, that’s has major implications in terms of being able to create family stability.”
Cromwell says there are 58,000 children in Nebraska under the age of eight in low-income families that are struggling, “for parents to have access to income, access to quality child care in schools, and stress at home for parents figuring out how to juggle schedules and get food on the table.”
Cromwell, the foundation’s director of strategic initiatives, says one solution is to use the public, nonprofit and private sectors to simultaneously reach out to two generations.
“What we’re proposing is not only investing in early childhood but investing in skills for parents at the same time,” Cromwell says. “So, when a parent brings a child to Head Start or early child care, that they then go upstairs or go to the neighborhood’s job training program or the community college and build their skills.”
The recommendations propose integrating state and federal employment, education and child care programs for parents and children to create better opportunities for the entire family.
While Nebraska ranked 10th this year, the top three states are: Massachusetts, Vermont and Iowa.
See the full report at www.kidscount.org