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Many American Kids Still Need Help

Published Wednesday Jun 26, 2019

Many American Kids Still Need Help

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is urging policymakers to prioritize how to expand opportunity for America's 74 million children, noting measurable but still inadequate progress over the past three decades to ensure all children realize their full potential.   

The 30th edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book — an annual report on child well-being in the U.S. — notes progress in helping children thrive since the first Data Book, published in 1990. But it also finds the nation has failed to tear down barriers that affect children of color.

"All of the 74 million kids in our increasingly diverse country have unlimited potential, and we have the data, knowledge and evidence to create the policies that will help them realize it," says Casey Foundation President and CEO Lisa Hamilton.

While children in the U.S. had a better chance at thriving in 2017 than in 1990 (with improvements in 11 of the 16 KIDS COUNT measures90, racial and ethnic disparities persist.

  • One in six American kids grew up in poverty.
  • 2017 was the first year since 2010 that saw an increase in the number of uninsured kids.
  • NH and Massachusetts are again in first and second place in the Data Book state rankings, followed by Iowa, Minnesota and New Jersey.
  • Mississippi (48), Louisiana (49) and New Mexico (50) are again the lowest-ranked states.
  • The South and West contain the 18 lowest-ranked states.
  • The 2019 Data Book also explores the growth in America's child population since 1990.
  • The U.S. child population increased from 64.2 million to 73.7 million between 1990 and 2017.
  • All 15 of the states where growth in the child population outpaced the national average since 1990 are in the South or West.

The percentage of American children who were Latino more than doubled from 12 to 26 percent. The proportion of Asian and Pacific Islander children also doubled, from 3 to 6 percent.

Direct lines can be drawn between areas of improvement in well-being— and policies that have supported these successes. The Data Book offers the Casey Foundation's recommendations for policy improvements and is available at

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