INDIANA, (WOWO): A new report says Indiana has improved, but still lags behind a majority of states when it comes to the quality of life for children.
The Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked Indiana 27th in the nation for the overall well-being of children, up three spots from the 2013 report. The report combines the results of statistics gathered in four categories; education, child poverty, heath and family and community.
The improved overall ranking was primarily due to the state's improvement in the education category, in which Indiana ranked 26th in the U.S. “Indiana is making gains in education, but we still have a lot of kids not reaching proficient levels,” said Glenn Augustine, vice president for advancement at the Indiana Youth Institute, which collected the state's numbers for the Casey Foundation.
Fewer Indiana fourth graders scored below the proficient level in reading last year according to the National Assessment for Education Progress. However, some experts have said the state's fourth grade reading scores may be skewed due to students being held back in third grade if they didn't pass the IREAD 3 exam.
Though Indiana‘s economy has improved, the state‘s child poverty rate remains high – 22 percent, just below the national average of 23-percent. “That number has ticked up since 2005 – it was at 17-percent then,” said Augustine, adding that reasons for child poverty vary across the state. Indiana made some improvement in family and community, but is still only 31st nationally in the category. “The teen birth rate in Indiana has been cut by about 25-percent over the last seven years, and there has been a slight decrease in the number of families where the head of the household lacks a high school diploma,” Augustine said.