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Analysis: MT makes small gains in child well-being


Big Sky Connection

An Annie E. Casey Foundation report finds more children in Montana graduated high school on time in 2017
compared to 2010. (U.S. Forest Service/Flickr)

Eric Tegethoff

June 17, 2019

HELENA, Mont. - Montana saw modest progress in a number of markers for child well-being, according to a new report. 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks the Treasure State 22nd overall in its measure of how children are doing in four categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. 

Thale Dillon, director of Montana KIDS COUNT, says although there's more to be done, the state is doing better by its children.

"We are definitely stepping up in many different areas," she states. "I think even though we haven't seen much movement in the percent of teens that abuse alcohol or drugs, we have, for example, seen a great drop in child and teen death rates."

Montana's child and teen deaths per 100,000 people dropped 40%, from 45 in 2010 to 27 in 2017. But overall, the state ranks worst in health, at 44. 

Montana fared best in the family and community category at 11, ranking second-best in the country for family heads of household who have a high school diploma.

Leslie Boissiere, the Casey Foundation's vice president of external affairs, says public policy is critical to child well-being. She points to the sharp drop in the teen birth rate and reduction in children who don't have access to health care since 2010, both of which are on the decline in Montana.

"This is all the result of public policy and it's critically important that we continue to look at policies that are going to have a positive effect on child well-being," she states.

Boissierre also highlights the importance of an accurate census count in 2020. 

Fifty-five major federal programs, including Head Start and the Children's Health Insurance Program, allocate more than $880 billion each year nationwide based on census data.


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