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Few Bright Spots in Conditions for Arizona Kids; Progress in Health Could Backslide With State and Congressional Votes

June 13, 2017

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PHOENIX, Ariz., June 13, 2017—The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book finds Arizona’s conditions for kids in the bottom five in the nation, ranking 46th. The analysis takes into account 16 different indicators across four domains: education, health, economic well-being and family and community aspects.

More Arizona kids gained access to health coverage through Medicaid expansion and the marketplace when the Affordable Care Act went into effect. That increase in insured children helped boost Arizona’s health ranking from 45 in last year’s Data Book to 40 this year. Now, only 8 percent of the state’s children are uninsured, a 38 percent drop from 2010. Updated data will reflect more progress, since KidsCare coverage was restored in September 2016 and 20,000 children are now enrolled.

“So many Arizonans joined together last year to fight for KidsCare and it’s exciting to see this trend going in the right direction,” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, President and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance. “But this good news could be wiped out in the blink of an eye.”

The U.S. House version of the American Health Care Act and President Trump’s budget proposal would push tens of thousands of Arizona children out of affordable health coverage with reckless cuts to Medicaid, Naimark explained. And the state budget just signed by Governor Doug Ducey mandates that KidsCare enrollment be frozen again if there is any reduction to federal funding to Arizona.

“We’re counting on our state lawmakers to work side by side with our Congressional delegation to stand up for the health care Arizona children need,” Naimark added.

Thanks to parents, mentors, educators, community support and health care, Arizona’s teen birth rate improved more quickly than the national trend. At 26 births per 1,000 females in 2015, the teen birth rate is down 38 percent since 2010, and below the national average. But this progress is also at risk—in a surprise, last-minute addition to the state budget in April, legislators changed the allocation of Title X federal family planning funds. Now, teens may lose access to effective pregnancy prevention services in the coming year.

“Our elected leaders should be working with us to build on the improvements in health coverage and teen parenthood,” said Delphis Richardson, an East Valley pediatrician who chairs the Cover Kids Coalition. “I know firsthand these are two of the most important changes we can make to help children grow up healthy and make families stronger.”

Other measures that showed slow improvement include:

  • The percentage of 3-4 year old children not enrolled in preschool is now at 63 percent, compared to 66 percent in 2010; Arizona still ranks in the bottom five states.
  • The percentage of children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment has improved a bit more in Arizona than the national trend.
  • The rate of child and teen deaths dropped 14 percent from 2010 to 2015, now just below the national average.

The report shows that many families in Arizona continue to struggle with poverty during the slow and uneven economic recovery. One in four children in the state is growing up poor, higher than the national average of 21 percent.

The 2017 Data Book is available at www.aecf.org, with additional information and online data tools at the KIDS COUNT Data Center. Users can customize their own data sets, maps and graphics to illustrate the most recent statistics available.

Children’s Action Alliance is an independent voice for Arizona children at the state capitol and in the community. CAA works to improve children’s health, education and security through information and action.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.