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Latest Louisiana KIDS COUNT report Charts a Path to Improved Child Well-Being

February 10, 2020

Report examines what it would take to move Louisiana from the bottom of national rankings

NEW ORLEANS—Agenda for Children released its first-ever “Roadmap to Improve Child Well-Being in Louisiana,” a report that builds upon the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 30-year project to measure the well-being of children in every state, from birth through young adulthood. The Roadmap examines how Louisiana can improve on the 16 measures of child and family well-being tracked by the Foundation each year in its KIDS COUNT Data Book.

Louisiana should be especially invested in outcomes for its children because 78% of our residents were born here, making us the state with the largest proportion of residents who were born in that state. Our future prosperity as a state depends almost entirely on how well today’s children are educated and supported.

“Children are 24% of our population, but 100% of our future,” said Dr. Anthony Recasner, CEO of Agenda for Children. “Every child deserves to grow up healthy, safe, well-educated and protected from harm.”

Louisiana has improved on several key measures of child well-being in the past few years, including; increasing access to early childhood education, decreasing the number of children living in poverty and decreasing the number of teenagers that are not in school or working. However, when compared to the rest of the country, our rankings are stagnating. Put simply, in order to improve, we need to accelerate our progress.

The Roadmap report looks at what state and local governments need to do in order to fast-track Louisiana’s progress on key measures of child well-being. Every year, the Annie E. Casey publishes its KIDS COUNT Data Book, which ranks states on 16 different indicators of child wellbeing. Agenda for Children used that data to show what it would take for Louisiana to improve by one ranking, by five rankings, and what it would take to tie with the best-ranked state(s). For each measure, the Roadmap provides several evidence-based policy recommendations on how Louisiana could improve that outcome.

Louisiana has never ranked higher than 46th in the KIDS COUNT Data Book, and, most frequently, finds itself ranked 49th among states. While our state has seen improvements in many areas, the data make it clear that Louisiana needs to pursue a bold vision to improve outcomes for its youngest residents.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Relatively small improvements can make a big difference for Louisiana’s children. For example, if every parish prevented just 4 babies from being born at low birthweight, our state would improve by a ranking. And, if, over the course of five years, they found a way to prevent 2.2 births every year for five years in a row, we would jump five rankings on that measure.
  • In some areas, such as child poverty, there is a stunning gulf between Louisiana’s current reality and what it would take to become the top-ranked state. In order to move from our current ranking (50th) to number one, Louisiana would need to lift 192,700 children out of poverty, a 63% drop.
  • Louisiana’s success in areas such as improved access to preschool and health insurance for children can serve as a blueprint for improving other indicators. Despite Louisiana’s high rate of child poverty (28%), 97% of children have health insurance and 52% of three and four year olds are enrolled in school, thanks to a combination of federal and state investments, innovative state practices, and coordinated outreach efforts by the private and public sectors.

“We are beginning a new decade with a legislature that experienced forty percent turnover in the last election cycle. The time is ripe for big changes for the children of Louisiana,” said Kenny Francis, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Agenda for Children. “What will be true for our children in 2030?”

The full report can be downloaded from our KIDS COUNT Publications page. Contact Teresa Falgoust or Kenny Francis for more information.

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