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Sunday, November 18, 2018



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Other states significantly improve child well-being

Other states significantly improve child well-being

Louisiana has averaged 49th in child well-being among the states for 26 years.

According to The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT annual reports, in terms of child well-being, Louisiana’s children, “our children”, would have been better off living in 48 other states - for 26 years.

We are still near our worst which was back in 1990, when Louisiana ranked 51st in child well-being. That’s right: 51st in the nation! In 1990, Washington, D.C., then at the epicenter of the nation’s crack epidemic, was caring for children better than we were.

We must know this: Louisiana is not destined to this poor ranking. I refuse to believe Louisiana’s children are doomed.

Fate did not put our children’s well-being at the bottom of the nation. We have simply chosen not to act for their benefit. We let the good times roll and overlook the deleterious impact of ignoring children’s issues.

Louisiana’s leaders in strategic positions must make the care of our children a priority. It may feel like it, but our children are not destined to grow up among the nation’s harshest conditions. In fact, evidence shows a state can significantly improve the well-being of its children in a short period of time – when it decides to do so and acts on its decision.

Exploration of The Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT Data Center at http://datacenter.kidscount.org provides clear evidence that states can significantly improve children’s well-being in short periods of time.

In a single year, 11 states (more than 20%) improved their rank in overall child well-being by two or more positions. Five states (10%) improved their child well-being rank by 3 or more positions. Minnesota made it to number 1 in child well-being with a 4 position move and Alaska improved by 6 positions between 2014 and 2015.

These improving states are not all liberal, wealthy states located in the northeast or on the west coast. Some are southern states including South Carolina and Georgia.

Caring well for children requires effective leadership. Until the welfare of our children becomes a visceral, daily priority of our Governor, until our legislature actively commits itself to intentionally improving the well-being of our children, until leaders in communities throughout our state choose to make the welfare of our children a daily priority, until all of us in Louisiana care enough to care well for our children, Louisiana’s children will suffer.

Know this: our failure to care well for children will not be due to fate or destiny. Our collective failure to prioritize the well-being of our children is a choice we make. Other states significantly improve child well-being.

I believe Louisiana can, too!

Rick Wheat
President and CEO
Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home
www.LMCH.org/advocacy