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The economic well-being of Florida's children fell last year, a national study shows

kids playing with legos
Nancy Guan
/
WUSF
The Annie E Casey Data Book determines overall child well-being based on economic well-being, education, health, and family and community.

Although ranking fifth in education in the country in the 2024 Annie E. Casey Foundation Data Book, Florida ranked 30th in the nation in overall child well-being.

Florida's children continue to fall behind their peers in other states when it comes to measurements for well-being, according to the most recent Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT Data Book.

The Florida Policy Institute is calling on the state to improve.

Although ranking fifth in education for the second-straight year, Florida ranks 30th in overall child well-being, up from 31st from the year before.

Child well-being is measured by looking at four categories: education, health, family and community, and economic well-being.

The state improved slightly on two categories: health, going from 33rd to 31st, and family and community, going from 32nd to 30th.

But the state dropped from 37th to 42nd in economic well-being.

Norín Dollard, is with the Florida Policy Institute and director of Florida's KIDS COUNT study. She said expanding Medicaid is one crucial step to improve Florida's rankings and the health of children and families.

"They (families) would have to spend less of their income on health insurance," Dollard said, "and would also have improved health outcomes and well-being."

She added that Florida has the potential lead the nation in child well-being, but the state legislature needs to be willing to spend the money.

"We can do it. We choose not to," Dollard said. "We have a $14 billion surplus right now in the state coffers. We could make eight-hour VPK (Voluntary Pre-K) probably tomorrow if we felt like it, but we have to have the will to do that."

The Florida Policy Institute is also calling on the state to do more to expand affordable housing because buying a home and insurance in Florida is becoming more expensive.

Aileyahu Shanes is a WUSF Rush Family Radio News intern for the summer of 2024.