Last Modified: Thursday, July 26, 2012 6:47 PM
An annual report about the well-being of children in Louisiana provides a sliver of hope.
The report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found Louisiana moved up two spots to 47th among the 50 states in children’s well-being.
The study ranked the welfare of children in 16 categories, six more than previous annual reports by the foundation.
Louisiana scored well regarding the number of uninsured children and those enrolled in preschool.
“Despite our state’s poor overall ranking, Louisiana outperformed the national average on both the proportion of children who are uninsured and the proportion of three- and four-year-olds who are not attending preschool,” said Dr. Anthony Recasner, CEO of Agenda for Children. “This is the direct result of our state’s substantial investments in children’s access to insurance and preschool.”
Louisiana earned its highest ranking (39th) in the health domain, but ranked among the bottom six states in the economic well-being, education and family and community domains categories.
The foundation’s report praised the state’s LaCHIP program for innovative practices that ensure as many eligible children as possible are enrolled in the program that provides health care for youngsters. It also noted the National Institute for Early Education Research’s 2011 Preschool Yearbook ranked Louisiana 13th among states in terms of ensuring access to preschool for 4-year-olds.
According to the report, Louisiana’s children have seen improvements on every indicator related to health and education. However, the state lost ground on three out of four economic well-being measures, as well as on two out of four family and community indicators.
Other highlights include:
• 6 percent of Louisiana children lacked health insurance in 2010, compared to 8 percent of children nationally.
• The proportion of children living in high-poverty areas decreased from 22 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2006-2010.
• Louisiana children were less likely than the national average to live in households with a high housing cost burden. While 32 percent of Louisiana children lived in housing-burdened families, the same was true for 41 percent of children nationwide in 2010.
But the report also revealed serious challenges ahead.
The report said more than a quarter of Louisiana children (27 percent) live in poverty, and the percentage of children whose parents lack secure employment increased from 32 percent in 2008 to 36 percent in 2010. During the same time, the proportion of teenagers not in school and not working increased from 11 percent to 14 percent.
Still there are positives to be taken from the report, particularly the praise for the state’s pre-K enrollment push and LaCHIP program that could begin paying bigger dividends in the education realm and health-care arena.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.