Idaho ranks No. 22 in new child welfare study

Idaho ranked No. 22 nationally in a new report that examines a range of child welfare issues.

But that same study gave Idaho lackluster scores on education issues — largely because of the state’s chronic pre-K shortage.

On Tuesday, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2016 edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book. Titled “State Trends in Child Well-Being,” the report ranked the states on 16 social, economic and education criteria.

On many social and economic criteria, Idaho compares favorably to the national average. Two examples:

  • Some 80,000 Idaho children lived in poverty in 2014, a 19 percent poverty rate. The national poverty rate came in at 22 percent.
  • Six percent of Idaho children live in high-poverty areas; the national average is 14 percent.

But when the foundation ranked the states on four education metrics, Idaho’s ranking dropped to No. 37 nationally. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Sixty-nine percent of Idaho’s 3- and 4-year-olds are not in school, a percentage that actually has gone up since the start of the Great Recession. Nationally, that figure is 53 percent. (Depending on which recent national study you believe, Idaho is one of only five states without a state-funded pre-K program, or one of eight states on that list.)
  • In 2015, 64 percent of Idaho’s fourth-graders were not proficient in reading. The national average was 65 percent.
  • In 2015, 66 percent of Idaho’s eighth-graders were not proficient in math, slightly better than the national rate of 68 percent.
  • Eighteen percent of Idaho students failed to graduate on time in 2012-13, a figure that mirrors the national average.

Based in Baltimore, the Annie E. Casey Foundation describes its mission as improving “the lives of America’s children and their families.”