INDIANAPOLIS - The latest Kids Count data book shows a brighter outlook for children’s health in Indiana. The survey ranks states in four broad areas of health, education, family and community, and economic well-being.
In the 2016 report, released Tuesday, Indiana moved up four spots from last year’s ranking, to 31st among the states for health outcomes.
Indiana improved its ranking in all four of the report’s key indicators:
The number of low birthweight babies;
Child and teen death rates;
And rates of alcohol or drug abuse among teens.
Indiana Youth Institute President and CEO Tami Silverman said the increase in health insurance is an especially bright spot.
“We now have 93% of our children with health insurance and it takes a little while to get the awareness and how to sign up, but we’re seeing the results of some of those awareness issues paying off now,” Silverman said.
Silverman also pointed to the 39 percent drop in teens who reported using drugs and alcohol and says this success starts at home.
“Talking about drugs and alcohol with your teens is not a one-time conversation. It is an ongoing conversation that needs to happen repeatedly so that kids understand what the family expectations are as well as the consequences,” she said.
On the downside, it reports that more Hoosier children are living in poverty, a 22% increase from 2008.
The Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation compiles national information going back to 2008 and differs from the state book that was out earlier this year, which uses county level data.
Silverman said Indiana is still in the middle of the pack and has a lot of work to do.
“There’s an ongoing challenge ahead of us, but it’s nice to see we are making progress. So, hopefully, we can continue to build on that progress and keep the momentum moving forward,” she said.