Families and Children  
Report Highlights National Indicators of Child Well-Being

By Suzette Lohmeyer
July 19, 2010

The annual Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics report is out with some promising news on preterm birth, teenage pregnancy, and health care coverage, and some less promising statistics on child poverty and food security.

Child_Stats_Teaser.jpgThe report, "America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2010," includes 40 national indicators on child well-being in America, covering seven major topic areas: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education and health.  

The Forum, a collaborative effort of 22 federal agencies, chooses key indicators that "are easy to understand, are based on substantial research connecting them to child well-being, cut across important areas of children's lives, are measured regularly so that they can be updated and show trends over time, and represent large segments of the population rather than one particular group."

Here are what the authors identify as the most "statistically significant changes" among the indicators, separated by time period:

For the period 2007-2008:

  • A drop in the proportion of infants born before 37 weeks, from 12.7 percent to 12.3 percent.
  • A drop in births to adolescents, from 22.2 per 1,000 girls ages 15-17 to 21.7 per 1,000.
  • A rise in the rate of children from birth to 17 years of age covered by health insurance at some time during the year, from 89 percent to 90 percent.
  • A rise in the proportion of related children from birth to 17 years of age living in poverty, from 18 percent to 19 percent.
  • A drop in the percentage of children from birth to 17 years of age living with at least one parent employed year round full-time, from 77 percent to 75 percent.
  • A rise in the percentage of children from birth to 17 years of age living in food insecure homes, from 17 percent to 22 percent, the highest prevalence since monitoring began. The report defines food security as access at all times to enough food for active, healthy lives for all family members.

For the period 2007 to 2009:

  • Eighth graders' average mathematics scale score increased, from 281 to 283, while fourth graders' scores were flat after rising for a number of years
  • Eighth graders' average reading scale score increased, from 263 to 264, but fourth graders' scores were unchanged.

From 2008 to 2009:

  • The proportion of youth ages 16-19 neither enrolled in school nor working increased from 8 percent to 9 percent.

Explore "America's Children in Brief:Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2010" using the interactive reader below or download a PDF of the full report here.

(America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2010)

Suzette Lohmeyer is a staff writer and producer for State of the USA.

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