Most people know that children need shelter, food, and love to be happy and healthy, but there’s more to consider. The overall wellbeing of a child can be greatly affected by the child himself or herself, the people he/she interacts with like their family and community, and also by the state in which they are born and raised.
According to the new 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an annual study of children across the United States, state-specific factors play a significant role in whether children are healthy.
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What Contributes to a Child’s Overall Wellbeing
Within the study, four categories of factors are considered when measuring overall child wellbeing: economic, education, health, and family and community factors. State policy choices and investments can also impact state rankings for child wellbeing. Looking at these four domains provides a closer look at child wellbeing data, highlighting bright spots in states as well as areas with room for improvement.
The 4 types of actors that affect child wellbeing are:
- Economic wellbeing factors including affordable housing and unemployment contribute to how parents can support their children. Growing up in poverty increases the risk of a child experiencing negative impacts to their brain development, negative health outcomes, and poor performance in school.
- Education factors play a large role in a child’s overall wellbeing and can affect their post-secondary plans, which college they attend, and what jobs they get as adults. Early in a child’s life is a critical time to set a foundation for successful learning. “Among member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States has the third-lowest percentage of young children enrolled in early childhood programs,” states the KIDS COUNT Data Book.
- Health factors add to the overall development of a child. Nutrition and access to good healthcare are both keys to ensuring a child is healthy and can become a healthy adult.
- Family and community factors impact children in an important way. We know that children grow best in families, with supportive and trusting relationships to help them learn and grow. Children also need good schools and supportive services to succeed.
View the full list of state rankings at www.aecf.org
How KVC Is Working to Improve Children’s Overall Wellbeing
KVC Health Systems’ services have long been in support of strengthening families, developing parenting skills and equipping families in all communities to prevent the need for foster care. We know that any type of disruption can greatly impact a child. We offer in-home family support across our entire network and work to ensure that families have the skills needed to safely care for their children, help parents find jobs where they can earn a suitable wage, and work with them to access healthcare.
While foster care is sometimes needed so that families can overcome obstacles like substance use, incarceration, abuse, and neglect, we work to ensure that children are safe and safely reunited with their families in as short a time as possible.
“It is our duty as citizens to ensure that children are in a family setting, in the most natural setting possible, with people who are connected to them and who truly love them, and that will make the difference for them,” said Jodie Austin, Executive Vice President of the KVC Institute.
With the passing of the Family First Prevention Services Act that became law on February 9, 2018, federal funding will now be made available aimed at keeping children with their families and towards programs that prevent the need for foster care. KVC supports policies that impact families and children’s overall wellbeing so that they can be happy, healthy and safely together.
Learn more about how we’re working to help children and teens in Kansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and Nebraska here.