Illinois ranks nineteenth in the nation when it comes to the overall well-being of children according to the latest Kids Count Data Book, which analyzes the health, education, family, and economic conditions of the nation’s children.
Illinois ranks high in the survey in education (13) and health (10), thanks to pre-school opportunities and the high number of kids with health insurance. But the newest numbers are from 2015 and don’t reflect the impact that the lack of a state budget has had on programs.
Anna Rowan, the Kids Count manager for the advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children, said, “Past investments have made a huge difference, even reducing racial disparities in health and education. We want lawmakers to enact a full state budget. If they don’t, we run the real risk of causing disparities to grow and wiping out progress we have already made.”
Rowan said the most recent statistics come from 2015, a time when Illinois had a state budget, so lawmakers need to consider the risk of backsliding. “As the state once again, hopefully, gets a budget, and starts thinking of hard choices" she added, " we need to make sure we are protecting the investments we already made for kids.”
Rowan says the numbers show more parents are working now than during the recession, but poverty rates for Illinois families have remained steady. She says this is where expanding child care and earned income tax credits could make a big difference for the state’s children.
Rowan says the survey points out a number of areas where the state needs to improve. She says 19% of the state’s children live in poverty – and two-thirds of those are children of color.
Voices for Illinois Children will release a county-by-county breakdown of the Kids Count statistics later this summer.