As the nation heads toward the 2020 census, new estimates show that 104,000 (29 percent) of the state's youngest children live in neighborhoods where the census has historically had difficulty achieving an accurate count.
Counting all people in the state accurately plays an important role in determining federal funding for communities. While Massachusetts is ranked second in the nation on child well-being, according to the 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an undercount of Massachusetts children could adversely impact the programs and supports that have aided the state's progress and allowed children to thrive. MassBudget is the KIDS COUNT® organization for Massachusetts.
An undercount could affect the services that help the families make ends meet. In Fiscal Year 2015, the federal government supported Massachusetts children in a variety of ways, such as through $280.9 million for special education services, $146.9 for the Head Start program, and $76.3 million for affordable child care.
The annual KIDS COUNT® Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains - health, education, economic well-being, and family and community - as an assessment of child well-being. Massachusetts ranks second overall. According to the Data Book, Massachusetts leads the nation in health measures, reading levels and mathematic achievement, but the share of children living in poverty is the same as it was in 2010 - 14 percent. Within each domain, Massachusetts ranks:
- 11th in economic well-being. The share of Massachusetts children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment decreased by 10 percent since 2010.
- Second in education. Massachusetts children remain first in mathematic achievement (with 50 percent of eighth-graders scoring at or above proficient level) and reading level (with 51 percent of fourth-graders scoring at or above proficient level). The number of 3- and 4-year olds attending school has stayed essentially the same since 2009-2011.
- First in health. The state remains first in the nation in ensuring children have health insurance and has seen a slight decrease since 2010 in the percent of babies born with a low birthweight.
- Ninth in family and community domain. The state has seen a 47 percent drop in teen birth rates since 2010, and has seen a slight decrease in the number of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods. In 2016, about 8 percent of children lived in high-poverty neighborhoods.
Massachusetts' rankings on economic well-being and in the family and community domain indicate that raising the incomes of low- to middle-income families and improving employment opportunities remain important challenges for the Commonwealth. Getting an accurate scope of the challenges, however, requires an accurate census count.
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