Arizona ranks near the bottom in a set of indicators showing children's progress in health and education, says a report out Monday.
The KIDS COUNT® Data Book, published by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranked Arizona 47th, the Children's Action Alliance said in a press release Monday.
This is the second consecutive year that Arizona children's education, health and security rank as second worst in the nation.
The data showed that participation in preschool among 3- and 4-year-old children was poor and more than two of three Arizona children miss the opportunity for early education and preparation for school.
“The economy can’t improve to full strength, and businesses can’t grow high-paying jobs unless Arizona’s children learn the skills to fill those jobs,” Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance, said in the press release. “Without access to preschool, future generations of employees and employers are losing out.”
Substantial research showed that investing in quality early education for children, especially those who are disadvantaged, is one of the best investments a society can make.
Despite recovery in the state's economy, child poverty has continued to increase since 2007. More than a third of children live in a household where no parent has full time, year-round employment, the study showed.
“Children are our nation’s most precious resource, as well as our future leaders, employees, citizens and parents,” Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of The Annie E. Casey Foundation, said in the press release. “The early years of their lives are a critical juncture in their development. As our economic recovery continues, we cannot lose sight of doing whatever it takes to help kids, particularly kids in low-income families, reach their full potential — and that includes laying a solid foundation from the moment they are born.”
There are signs of upcoming good news for Arizona children. The child and teen death rate continues to drop. In 2006 there were 703 child and teen deaths statewide, while in 2010 the number had fallen to 477. Also, high school graduation rates showed improvement.
To view how Arizona ranks in all 16 indicators, including the racial disparities for each indicator, visit the KIDS COUNT website.