Florida continues to struggle with key child health measures – including low birthweight babies – according to the 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The state ranked 37th in key indicators of child health and well-being in the latest data book, compared to 34th last year. While there were some bright spots in the new report, Florida lags other states in outcomes related to health and poverty.
An increase in the number of low birthweight babies and uninsured children contributed to Florida’s low ranking in health (40 out of 50 states). Concerns about high housing costs and other issues in high poverty neighborhoods over-shadowed improvements in economic development indicators, leading the state to drop in ranking for this domain from 42 in 2018 to 45 in 2019. Overall, Florida is not faring as well as the U.S. on 10 of the 16 indicators that make up the index.
Florida KIDS COUNT and the Annie E. Casey Foundation point to a number of First 1000 Days Florida strategies that will improve the state’s standing:
- More needs to be done to ensure that high housing costs and high-poverty neighborhoods do not make poverty an insurmountable trap for families.
- Policies that have proven to improve the well-being of children should be expanded including improving rates of health insurance, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit at the state level, and continuing to expand education funding equitably.