NEW HAVEN — Connecticut remains one of the best states for children, despite a slight drop in its nationwide ranking, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private policy organization.
The organization released its 30th annual “Kids Count” report Monday, which measures the overall welfare and well-being of the nation’s children along 16 indicators. Connecticut ranked eighth in the nation by those metrics, down from seventh last year and sixth two years ago.
“If you look at the data, Connecticut outpaces the nation in 14 of 16 indicators,” said Leslie Boissiere, Annie E. Casey vice president for external affairs.
But education was the only area in which Connecticut ranked in the top 10 in the nation. Connecticut ranks 18th for economic well-being overall, with 13 percent of children in poverty in 2017 when the national rate was reported at 18 percent. However, the rate of children living in households with a high housing cost burden was 35 percent, four points higher than the national average.
Connecticut ranked third in the nation overall in the report’s four education indicators: the percentage of young children in preschool, fourth-graders proficient in reading, eighth-graders proficient in math and high school students graduating on time. Historically, it’s where Connecticut does best on the annual report.
“I think it tracks well with some of the policy initiatives,” said Boissiere.
Further, in the current legislative session, she said, the Connecticut General Assembly passed several measures that will improve the well-being of children, such as raising the minimum wage, increasing early educator compensation and paid family and medical leave.
The state’s high housing costs shed light on how the average well-being of children in Connecticut can be overshadowed by racial and class-based inequities.
“In general, if we look at states across the country, well-being tends to be different by race and ethnicity,” Boissiere said. “I think we do see positive trends of the issues the legislature tends to take up.”
However, to move the state forward, legislators must continue to commit to prioritizing equity, she said.
The U.S. did better on 11 of 16 indicators compared to several years prior, but only one was worse in 2017 than it was in 2010: the percentage of low birth-weight babies, which was 8.3 percent in 2017 and 8.1 percent in 2010.
“As a country we’re doing the right things. We’re on track and making the right progress,” Boissiere said.