Baltimore, MD–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–August 6, 2007–Although on balance, child well-being across the nation has improved since 2000 – especially for teens – many younger children, including Hispanic children, continue to face significant hardship in four key areas, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The 18th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book calls attention to overall increases in low-birth-weight babies, children living in poverty, children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-long employment, and children living in single-parent households.
Findings specifically related to Hispanic American children include:
— Twenty-nine percent* of Hispanic children live in poverty, compared with the national average of 19 percent.
— Thirty-six percent** of Hispanic children live in single-parent households, compared with the national average of 31 percent.
— Thirty-nine percent* of Hispanic children live in families where no parent is employed full-time on a permanent basis, compared with the national average of 33 percent.
*No change from 2000
**Up slightly from 35 percent in 2000.
On the positive side, there were significant improvements across the board in the rates for child deaths, teen births, high school dropouts, and teens not in school and not working. In addition, slight improvements were fount in the rates for infant mortality and teen deaths.
“KIDS COUNT contains some good and bad news,” says Laura Beavers, research associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “While well-being indicators have largely gotten better for teens, they’ve gotten worse for babies. We also see persistent disparities in outcomes for children of color, including Hispanic-Americans.”
Each year, the KIDS COUNT Data Book provides information and statistical trends on the conditions of America’s children and families. In 2007, the report also looks at the 726,000 children in the United States who spend time in foster care each year – of which 122,000 are Hispanics – and what can be done to build and strengthen the family relationships that these children need. “While keeping children safe is an essential role and responsibility of our child welfare systems,” says Douglas W. Nelson, president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, “the full measure of success should be how fully the systems assure strong and safe lifelong families for every child they serve.”
The KIDS COUNT Data Book’s essay, “Lifelong Family Connections: Supporting Permanence for Children in Foster Care,” looks at how the United States can move toward having all children who are in foster care become part of a lifelong family. Child welfare advocates have asserted for decades that children in foster care need a permanent family connection that they can expect to be theirs through adulthood, yet this concept has not yet become a paramount and defining goal of child welfare work. Children and youth who spend extensive time in foster care and leave care without a strong family relationship are at great risk of experiencing early parenthood, involvement with the criminal justice system, poverty, and homelessness.
The KIDS COUNT Data Book’s essay calls on our child welfare systems and federal legislators to make significant changes and support bold policies that can bring family connections and better life outcomes to all children and youth in foster care.
“Removing a child from his or her home should be the last, rather than the first option, with the understanding that kids must be kept safe from physical harm,” declares Patrick McCarthy, vice president of System and Service Reform, at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Placement in foster care should be a means of moving toward a lasting family, with kids going into family settings and their own neighborhoods and living with their siblings whenever possible. Stays in foster care should be brief and systems should enable family connections for kids through reunification, legal guardianship, and adoption.” Child welfare systems are also urged to give families and children sufficient “post-permanency” supports, such as counseling, education, financial help, and respite care.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private charitable organization, whose primary mission is to foster public policies, human-service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families. For more information, visit http://www.aecf.org.
The KIDS COUNT Data Book with state-by-state rankings, supplemental data, and the essay, “Lifelong Family Connections: Supporting Permanence for Children in Foster Care,” can be viewed online at http://www.aecf.org