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Florida's Child Well-Being Falls

Florida ranked 40th in health well-being of children, according to the 2019 Kids Count profile.
Florida Kids Count
Florida ranked 40th in health well-being of children, according to the 2019 Kids Count profile.

The well-being of Florida’s children is getting worse, according to a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Despite improvements in education and economic well-being, the report shows that there are other indicators where Florida declined, leading the state’s overall ranking to sink to 37th in the country. This is down from 34th a year earlier.

Health insurance is one example of where Florida is falling short. Nationally, 5% of children do not have health insurance versus 7% in Florida, according to Foundation vice president of external affairs Leslie Boissiere. The 325,000 uninsured children in Florida is up 68,000 from a year earlier.

Boissiere also pointed out that 20% of Florida’s children live in poverty, compared to 18% nationally, while 38% live in a household with relatively high housing costs, compared to 31% nationally.

Another major concern is the ethnic and racial differences among Florida children.

“The issue of child poverty, particularly poverty for children of color, remains a significant challenge in the country and mirrors the same in the state of Florida,” said Boissiere.

The percentage of high household costs and poverty is higher for Latinos and African-American families compared to others.

“The focus is on economic improvements based on the expansion of earned income tax credits and a way that will allow low-income families to earn a wage that will help them with the cost of living,” according to Boissiere.

On the positive side, Florida does well in the early childhood education and funding, but there are always new ways to increase the children’s well-being.

“Florida has been very effective at funding early education. And insuring that there is equitably funding for K-12 education as well is another area that the state could look at,” said Boissiere.

The 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book compares counties and states across 16 indicators based on four major areas: economic well-being, education, health and family and community.

Ti’Anna Davis is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for summer 2019.
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