The situation of children showed progress in the areas of education and health from roughly 2005 to 2011, last year surveyed, the Anne E. Casey Foundation report released Monday indicated. During that span, the teen birth rate dropped by 15 percent to a historic low and the rate of high school students not graduating in four years experienced a nearly 20 percent decline, as did the child and teen death rate.
The percentage of children who had no health insurance also decreased by 30 percent, the report indicated.
However, the child poverty rate in 2011 was at 23 percent, or 16.4 million children, an increase of 3 million since 2005, Kids Count said. The number of children living in households spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing -- more than 29 million in 2011 -- experienced slight improvement from 2010, but was still about 2 million more than in 2005.
The lingering, negative effects of the recession hit younger children particularly hard, the report said. The poverty rate among children younger than 3 was 26 percent; and was 25 percent among children 3- to 5-year-olds, higher than the national average for all ages.
"Children are our nation's most precious resource, as well as our future leaders, employees, citizens and parents," said Patrick McCarthy, president and chief executive officer for the foundation based in Seattle. "The early years of their lives are a critical juncture in their development. As our economic recovery continues, we cannot lose sight of doing whatever it takes to help kids, particularly kids in low-income families, reach their full potential -- and that includes laying a solid foundation from the moment they are born."
At the state level, the report said New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts ranked highest for overall child well-being, while Nevada, Mississippi and New Mexico were the lowest.