KIDS COUNT -- But for How Much?
The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) has just released the 2008 Kids Count Data Book, a national and state-by-state profile that provides data on the economic, health, education, and social conditions of America's children and families. While national trends showed little change over the past year, the percentage of children living in poverty inched up to 18%. Commenting on Capital Hill during the release of the report, AECF president Doug Nelson was quoted as saying, "I hope I don't need to emphasize that this is bad news."
So true. While no news is often seen as good news, not so in a country of such immense resources still unwilling to marshal resources needed to ensure that no child is left behind.
Over the years, I've appreciated AECF's leadership with KIDS COUNT for several reasons:
Stick-to-it-ive-ness: Foundation boards aren't known for sticking to the same programs and grantees. More often than not, when boards change, their emphasis changes. But AECF has been supporting the distribution of KIDS COUNT since 1990.
Data Access: Back when country wasn't cool (if you don't remember Donnie and Marie, this isn't for you) AECF was creating tools that enable advocates to localize and customize the voluminous data gathered in this process One example: "The Community Level Information on Kids (CLIKS) system is a free online tool that provides interactive access to maps, graphs and tables for 1,000's of KIDS COUNT indicators of child well being for localities across the country."
When I worked for GivingNet, we developed and submitted a proposal to Casey to create a KIDS COUNT Guide for Donors that would create linkages between need outlined in the report and programs effectively addressing these needs throughout the country. (It never made it to the top of Casey's pile but I still like them!)
In any case, if you care about kids, KIDS COUNT is an important resource to review. This year's report also includes A Roadmap for Juvenile Justice Reform -- key action steps and model programs with the potential to change the reality and prospects for the nearly 100,000 youth confined in U.S. juvenile facilities on any given night.