BOISE, Idaho - Idaho ranks last in the nation for early childhood education participation. Idaho is one of only six states that does not invest in prekindergarten or school readiness programs. According to the 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation today, 68 percent of Idaho’s 3- and 4-year-olds are not attending preschool. Troubling disparities persist among children of color and those from families earning lower wages: 83 percent of Idaho’s Hispanic children are not enrolled in pre-K programs, compared to 64 percent of white children. And only one out of four children who live in families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty is enrolled in pre-K. “High-quality early learning programs play an important role in preparing children for success. When 3- and 4-year-olds attend pre-K, they experience higher levels of educational attainment, career advancement and earnings later in life,” said Christine Tiddens, community outreach director for Idaho Voices for Children. “Idaho is missing opportunities to invest in proven measures to secure our state’s economic future.”
The 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book shows improvements in Idaho in many factors that lead to a child’s healthy development. Since 2010, the percentage of children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment dropped by 23 percent. The percentage of children living in poverty decreased 5 percent.
The annual Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains to assess overall child well-being. Idaho ranks 21st nationally in overall child well-being. Other rankings for Idaho include:
• 12th in economic well-being: Approximately 76,000 kids in Idaho – or 18 percent – live in poverty (income below $24,339 for a family of two adults and two children).
• 14th in family and community: Teen birth rates have declined significantly since 2010, dropping by 39 percent. Twenty-six percent of children in Idaho live in families with one parent, which is the third lowest rate in the nation.
• 26th in health: The number of children without health insurance has decreased 55 percent since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Yet there are still 20,000 children who lack health coverage. The share of babies born with low birthweight increased slightly to 7 percent this year.
• 40th in education: Idaho’s fourth-graders saw some improvement in reading proficiency between 2015 and 2017, but 62 percent failed to gain proficiency in the subject. Meanwhile, 65 percent of Idaho’s eighth-graders scored below proficiency in math.
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