There are positive indicators for Alabama’s children and students among declining nationwide trends , according to a report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The 2023 KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals that Alabama has made a notable leap in national rankings for fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math outcomes. Alabama has managed to move up six spots, now ranking 41st in fourth-grade reading outcomes and 43rd in eighth-grade math.
Although the scores did not substantially increase, Alabama’s rate of decline was significantly slower compared to other states.
Rhonda Mann, the executive director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children, said, “State leaders should be proud of what they implemented to mitigate COVID disruptions, but as this report suggests, we still have a lot of work left to do.”
One such area is child care. The Casey Foundation emphasized the critical role of a robust child care system in ensuring children’s well-being and supporting economic growth. The report indicated a $122 billion annual loss to the U.S. economy due to child care-related issues.
In Alabama, the average cost of center-based child care for a toddler in 2021 stood at $7,501, representing 8% of the median income for a married couple and 30% of a single mother’s income.
“A good child care system is essential for kids to thrive and our economy to prosper,” said Lisa Hamilton, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “But our current approach fails kids, parents, and child care workers by every measure.”
Among the concerning statistics for Alabama were low birth-weight babies (10.4%), child and teen deaths per 100,000 (44%), and teen births (23 per 1,000 births). These figures place Alabama in the bottom five nationally for three indicators.
The KIDS COUNT Data Book is a 50-state report of recent household data compiled annually to track child well-being in the United States. Each year, the Data Book presents national and state data from 16 indicators in four domains — economic well-being, education, health, and family and community factors — and ranks the states according to how children are faring overall.