The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and posted on News5Cleveland.com under a content sharing agreement.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a national survey of child well-being, Ohio was in the middle of the pack when it comes to growth indicators.
The data, collected through the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranked Ohio 31st nationally for general child well-being, calculated using indicators of economic well-being, from education, health and family and community context.
Compared to 2019 numbers, Ohio was rated as improved in the categories of child poverty and adolescent absence from school. According to the survey, 18% of the state’s children live in poverty, better than 23% in 2010, but slightly more than the nationwide, where 17% of children live in poverty.
Child and adolescent deaths have increased in the state, with 27 deaths per 100,000 in Ohio, up from 25 in 2010.
Obesity rates among children aged 10 to 17 have also increased in the state, jumping 2% from 2016-17 to 2018-19. The state maintained its rate of low birth weight babies, according to the study, with 8.6% of Ohio infants born with lower than normal birth weight.
The teenage birth rate improved in the state, from 34 per 1,000 Ohio teens to 19.
The state ranks 28th in education, with fourth grade reading levels remaining the same as ten years ago at 64%. The state improved its math skills in eighth grade and its high school graduation rate, but the study found that 18% of high school students in the state still fail to graduate. time. In 2010, the rate was 20%.
Child care advocates in the state say it’s too early to tell the pandemic’s exact toll on graduation rates.
“But we know that when kids are emotionally healthy they’re better prepared to learn, and that’s why we need bold policies that meet the needs of Ohio students, such as ensuring every child can benefit from the student welfare and achievement funds for mental and behavioral health. care and other supports so they can be ready to learn after such a difficult year, ”Tracy Najera, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, said in a statement.
The investigation comes amid state budget negotiations at the Statehouse. The House version of the budget included an overhaul of public school funding intended to ease the burden on local school districts through direct state funding of the EdChoice private education voucher program and less reliance on property taxes to determine education funding shares.
The Senate brought in a version of the budget that has a different approach to funding schools, which still directly funds EdChoice vouchers, but differs from the House version in terms of funding models for public schools. Teacher unions and education advocates across the state have said they still support the House version of the education budget, but negotiations continue on the final draft budget.
State child care officials also criticized the Senate budget version, especially efforts to do away with the Step Up to Quality facility standardization model.
The Child Welfare Study recommended increased income support to help families pay for child care and improved public schools and post-secondary education as part of its findings.