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Kids Count Report: Florida maintains in education, ranks 30th in child well-being


Florida is ranked 30th in the 2024 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The annual report ranks states on the overall condition of children in four areas: economic well-being, education, health, and community and family. Florida's education numbers maintained last year's high marks, coming in fifth.

Norin Dollard, Kids Count director at the Florida Policy Institute, expressed her concern about the state's educational outcomes, particularly in light of the significant underinvestment in public education, a factor that is likely contributing to the mixed results.

"Sixty-one percent of fourth graders are not reading proficiently," Dollard reported. "I don't care what your ranking is per se, that means there's a need for greater investment in our young readers to get them to a place where they are more proficient."

In health, the state is doing worse, with an increase in low birth-weight babies and an increase in child and teen deaths per 100,000. The state saw improvements in the areas of family and community. The number of children living in single-parent families and in high-poverty areas decreased.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said overall, there are worse educational outcomes for students of color, kids in immigrant families, and children from low-income families or attending low-income schools. The gaps can affect their ability to succeed and thrive as adults.

"We continue to see disparities persist for kids of color, particularly for Black kids, for Latino kids, and for Native kids," Boissiere outlined. "It's persistent across states and pervasive across the decades that we've been reporting the Data Book."

While some areas have worsened, overall, Florida's child well-being index has improved. After three years of ranking 35th, it improved to 31st last year and 30th this year.

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