TALLAHASSEE, FL — A new report ranks Florida 35th among states for the overall well-being of its children, but signs of modest progress from previous years now face huge setbacks with COVID-19.
The numbers in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book are from 2018, so they don’t take into account the economic fallout from the pandemic.
Norin Dollard, director of Florida Kids Count, said improvements were made mostly across all indicators, particularly in terms of families’ economic well-being and children’s education.
“I think that’s the good news, that we were getting stronger in these areas before the world went sideways,” she said, “but at least we have something of a foundation.”
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In last year’s report, Florida ranked 37th nationally. This year’s Data Book still shows that more than 800,000 Florida children are living in poverty, with persistent racial and ethnic disparities.
Dollard said the data in the report is important because it can serve as a benchmark to measure recovery as schools — and everything else — resume operations. For now, she said, it’s impossible to measure the impact of COVID-19 through the lens of the annual Kids Count findings.
“It’s still unfolding,” she said. “So, I guess that’s what I’d say is, there’s just no telling how pervasive the change in our social fabric is because of this.”
In the report, two indicators — the percentages of low birth-weight babies and children in single-parent families — have remained unchanged since 2010, while all other areas showed improvements.
The report is online at aecf.org.