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Latest National Rankings for Child Well-Being Show Pennsylvania at 19th

The 2021 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, released in late June by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, shows Pennsylvania ranks 19th for overall child well-being. The 50-state report of recent household data is a comprehensive review of child well-being and uses 16 indicators across four domains to rank each state: economic well-being, education, family and community, and health.

For the 2021 report, the data captured are from 2019, so the impact of the COVID-19 crisis is not reflected.

“It is clear across some key indicators that Pennsylvania was moving in the wrong direction heading into the pandemic. Too many children were without health insurance and in poverty. The 2020 data will be very telling as it will reflect economic hardships faced by families, and whether they enrolled their children in publicly funded health care coverage like Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program under the crush of the public health crisis.” – PPC President and CEO Kari King

King said that although Pennsylvania performed well compared with other states in fourth grade reading and eighth grade math proficiency, 60% of fourth graders are not proficient in reading and 61% of eighth graders are not proficient in math. The pandemic likely will have a significant long-term impact on student data. In addition to the decision by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) to postpone its 2021 assessment administration, many states have allowed state-administered proficiency exams, like the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, to be waived or delayed given the challenges in administering them in remote learning environments.

This means moving forward, when looking at student achievement data available for at least the 2020 and 2021 school years, Pennsylvania’s ranking will likely remain unchanged. While the challenges of assessments in remote education are understandable, this does present a question of how we will measure student proficiency at a critical point in time and adapt policy accordingly for children as we come out of the pandemic to meet their needs.

According to the Data Book, Pennsylvania now ranks:

  • 17th in health. The health domain looks at the percentage of children who lack health insurance, child and teen death rates, the percentage of low birth-weight babies and obesity among teens. The rate of uninsured children has not changed when compared to the baseline year of 2010. Approximately 46% of children in Pennsylvania have access to affordable, quality health care coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to the state Department of Human Services. For Pennsylvania to be the top-ranked state in this domain, an additional 72,000 children would need health care coverage.
  • 20th in economic well-being. The economic well-being domain examines data related to child poverty, family employment, housing costs and whether older teens are not in school and not working. The number of children in poverty remained the same between 2018 and 2019 and it remains to be seen what the full economic impact will be as data become available following the pandemic.
  • 8th in education. The education domain looks at early education opportunities for preschoolers, reading and math proficiency, and whether high school students graduate on time. Pennsylvania’s ranking for the percent of fourth graders performing below the proficient level on the NAEP assessments was fourth place — by far the state’s best ranking in this year’s Data Book and since 2009. The state’s ranking for math proficiency improved to sixth place although 61% of eighth graders scored below proficient. 
  • 26th in the family and community domain. This domain examines the percentage of children living in high poverty areas, percentage of children living in single-parent households and education levels among heads of households, as well as teen birth rates. One in ten Pennsylvania children live in high poverty areas. Although this indicator improved slightly in this year’s Data Book, it is Pennsylvania’s worst ranking across all indicators. If Pennsylvania had just 36,000 fewer children in high poverty areas, it would improve the state’s rate by 10%.

Read coverage from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, WVIA Radio’s Keystone Edition, Keystone State News Connection.


SCOTUS Rules Again to Uphold the ACA in a Huge Win for Kids and Families

PPC celebrates the United States Supreme Court’s recent ruling by an overwhelming majority to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as the law of the land, the third time our highest court has upheld the ACA since its passage more than a decade ago. This long-awaited decision protects access to quality and affordable health coverage for Pennsylvania kids and families, helping them get and keep the care they need to thrive.

Our work continues as we build on our mission to advance health equity and make coverage more affordable and accessible for every pregnant individual and child living in Pennsylvania. Learn more about our maternal and child health policy goals.


Report Shows Coverage Gaps for Babies on Medicaid

A recent report, Missing Babies: Best Practices for Ensuring Continuous Enrollment in Medicaid and Access to EPSDT, shows states can do more to ensure eligible infants do not miss one day of their guaranteed Medicaid newborn coverage. Continuous coverage is especially important during a baby’s first year of life when the American Academy of Pediatrics schedule of well-child care visits track growth and development and include immunizations to protect against preventable diseases.

Pennsylvania is doing slightly worse than the national average, with 25% of babies not continuously enrolled in Medicaid or more than 17,500 Pennsylvania infants who experienced unnecessary gaps in coverage.

Research shows healthy moms are more likely to raise healthy babies, so 12-month continuous coverage following childbirth is equally vital for a mom’s health, too. That is why we are leading the effort in securing 12-month postpartum coverage for all birthing individuals in Medicaid.


Tune-in Next Week: Raising Our Future: America’s Child Care Dilemma – July 12-16

As our economy recovers, we know that our child care infrastructure remains in crisis. We must invest in our early care and education system with our children’s futures at stake. Accessible, affordable, high-quality child care allows families to work and offers babies the nurturing learning environment they need for healthy development. It helps builds a future for our families, our economy, and our nation.

The PBS NewsHour, one of the nation’s most trusted nightly news sources, has produced an upcoming week-long series on child care in the United States entitled Raising Our Future: America’s Child Care Dilemma. The series will run in five segments over the week of July 12th.

Each segment will have a specific focus that will be covered in a 7 to 10-minute package, and we anticipate that the needs of infants and toddlers will be woven throughout the series. Learn more at the series web page and join us in promoting the series and its resources as part of our efforts to expand an understanding of these critical issues.

Let’s recognize young children as our greatest resource and add your voice to the growing urgency around the need to address this genuine crisis.


Lead Free Promise Project Launches to Protect PA Kids from Lead Poisoning 

Public Citizens for Children and Youth and a coalition of more than 30 partners recently launched the Lead Free Promise Project awareness campaign to end lead paint poisoning in the Commonwealth. Watch the press conference here.

Approximately 8,000 Pennsylvania children are poisoned every year, yet these are only the children we know about as only 20% of children are tested. The Project’s goals include creating a state fund for low-income homeowners and landlords to remove lead paint-based hazards in properties and ensuring all children in Pennsylvania get tested twice for lead poisoning at ages one and two.

The Project is part of Thriving PA, a non-partisan, statewide campaign working to improve the quality of and increase equitable access to a coordinated system of health supports.

Organizations can support the Lead Free Promise Project by joining the coalition, giving it a follow on Twitter, and liking its Facebook page to stay up-to-date on current news and events.


Spread the Word! WIC Fruits and Vegetables Benefit Doubled through September

As part of the American Rescue Plan, states could increase the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) fruits and vegetables benefit to $35 for four months. Pennsylvania opted to participate in the increase, so now through September, WIC participants will receive the enhanced cash benefits for fruits and vegetables!

Thriving PA has developed a social media toolkit advocates can use in communities across Pennsylvania to raise awareness about the increased benefits.  

In addition to this short-term benefit, the National WIC Association is advocating to make the benefits increase permanent. Thriving PA partners will continue to support those efforts and others to increase participation.


In Case You Missed It...

  • A recent report released from Mission: Readiness, The Military Gets High-Quality Child Care; So Should PA, highlights how the Department of Defense invested in high-quality child care for military families and calls for Pennsylvania to look at similar upgrades to our child care sector to provide working families access to affordable, high-quality care and education.
  • Catch PPC President and CEO Kari King on Pennsylvania Newsmakers recapping the impact of the state budget on pre-k, child care and career and technical education.
  • The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families teamed up with Unidos U.S. to issue a report on how to close coverage gaps for Latino children and parents. Pennsylvania falls well below the national average; however, nearly 60,000 Latino children and Latino parents in Pennsylvania remain uninsured.
  • The Department of Education’s draft state plan for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds through the American Rescue Plan was made public last week. Comments are due tomorrow.
  • The updated 2021 GrandFacts fact sheet highlights Pennsylvania data on grandparents raising grandchildren and kin caregivers and provides resources for public benefits, educational assistance, legal relationship options, and state laws.
  • A recent report, Millions of Young People are Struggling to Meet Basic Needs during COVID-19, with Large Racial Disparities, explores the impacts of COVID-19 on older youth, particularly on food and housing security and mental health.   
  • Child care provisions are seemingly left out of the most recent deal in bipartisan infrastructure negotiations in Washington.
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Health released its second round of Request for Applications for the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) for Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Cambria, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Forest, Fulton, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Lycoming, Mercer, Potter, Venango, and Warren counties. The Department is seeking providers to service these counties, and interested applicants have until Monday, July 26th to submit applications.
  • The federal child care tax credit portal is now live. Find out more information, including eligibility, here.
  • Allies for Children recently posted a position description for its executive director opening. The PEAL Center has also posted a position description for its open executive director post.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
200 North Third Street 13th Floor | Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101
(717) 236-5680 | info@papartnerships.org

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