An annual survey assessing children‘s well-being in the 50 states ranks Indiana 30th — one spot better than last year.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks the states on 16 measures in four broad categories. Indiana vaulted ahead 13 slots to 21st place in children‘s health, largely on the strength of a half-a-percent improvement in four years in the number of low birth-weight babies.
Indiana Youth Institute president Bill Stanczykiewicz says that translates to hundreds of lives.
The percentage has steadily improved for four years — Stanczykiewicz credits efforts to educate women on the importance of prenatal care and avoiding alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy.
A decline in the number of child deaths due to fewer car crashes also boosted Indiana‘s health ranking.
The improvements were offset by backsliding on economic measures. One in four Hoosier children lives in poverty, while one in three have parents without fulltime jobs.
The data are from the recession year of 2011, but have been going up for six years. Stanczykiewicz says the slippage underlines the need to improve job training and education. Indiana‘s performance on education and “family and community” measures, such as the number of children in single-parent homes, was essentially unchanged.