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Arizona Kids Count Report Shows Improvement, Work Still Needs to be Done

Author: Michelle Boehm, Analytics and Evaluation Director

April 10, 2019

The Children’s Action Alliance recently released its Arizona Kids Count Databook, comparing benchmarks of child well-being and demographic trends from 2009 to 2016. Across this seven year timeframe, Arizona children experienced improvement in areas such as lower placement in juvenile detention centers and higher graduation rates. At the same time, troubling changes were witnessed in statewide childhood poverty rates and minority children continued to lag behind their non-minority peers across all measures.

The Good: From the end of the recession through 2016, several key metrics of child well-being improved:

  • The birth rate of children born to mothers without a high school education declined, resulting in fewer children who will be raised in the challenging conditions of poverty. 
  • In concert with lower youth crime rates and alternative measures imposed to support youth development, the percent of children placed juvenile detention centers decreased.
  • High school graduation rates improved.
  • While increases were seen in high school graduation rates for all racial/ethnic groups, however, a gap between White students and their African American, American Indian, and Latino/Hispanic counterparts persists. 

The Bad: In spite of the positives, the data book revealed there is much work to be done in improving child outcomes and quality of life. 

  • One of the data book’s most concerning findings is the increase in the number children experiencing poverty across these years, coinciding with a drop in median family income. American Indian children were most likely to experience poverty, with 45% living below the poverty level in 2016. Additionally, the poverty rate grew from 2009 to 2016 for almost all children, regardless of racial/ethnic background. Living in childhood poverty can have significant effects on physical and mental health as well as cognitive development.

  • Finally, an alarming uptick of children placed in the Arizona foster care system was seen from 2009 to 2016.

Among its core beliefs, Helios believes that every student, regardless of zip code, deserves a high-quality education. Helios Education Foundation utilizes data like high school graduation and childhood poverty rates to inform its strategic partnerships and investments in working to close the achievement gap among traditionally underserved students.  

In addition to statewide data, the Arizona Kids Count Databook contains profiles highlighting outcomes for each county in Arizona. Through resources such as this, Children’s Action Alliance seeks to inform policies and decisions impacting the live of Arizona children and families. To see more of the Arizona Kids Count Data Book metrics, click here.

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