Recession Wipes out Gains in Child Well-Being

Dec 20, 2011

By Hannah Matthews and Emily Firgens

Progress in improving children's quality of life has essentially stalled.

Children aren't doing so well because more families are struggling. Child poverty is up, economic inequality is widening and median household income is down.  For families with children under 18, on average, all of the improvements in their economic well-being over the past 35 years have been lost-directly impacting the quality of life of children, according to the 2011 Child Well-Being Index (CWI), a report recently released by the Foundation for Child Development.

The CWI report and a host of other economic indicators demonstrate in numbers that conditions are more difficult for our country's children than they have been in decades. .

The CWI indicators are grouped into seven domains, including family economic well-being, safe/risky behavior, social relationships, emotional/spiritual well-being, community engagement, educational attainment, and health. As in previous years, the recently released data paint a troubling holistic look at the conditions our children are living in.  

Overall, the report provides a sobering look at how the recession continues to impact families and children around the country. And while the CWI shows data on all children, we know that the important growth occurring during the early years makes young children even more vulnerable to negative outcomes.

State and federal policies could change the trajectory for families. Federal and state government need to take a hard look at the trends and commit to addressing this stark reality. By investing in the programs that help support kids, such as child care and early education, Medicaid and health services, and critical job training and work supports for families, we can help reverse the child well-being trend line in the years to come.  

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