The 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book reveals strengths and challenges for children in North Dakota – and emphasizes that an inaccurate census in 2020 threatens to worsen existing challenges for North Dakota youth
Karen Olson is the program director for North Dakota KIDS COUNT, a program sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and housed in the Center for Social Research at North Dakota State University. KIDS COUNT® recently released the 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, an annual assessment of children’s well-being in the United States. In this article, Karen offers some insight into the 2018 Data Book, and how North Dakota ranks in regards to the well-being of children and youth.
Last week the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2018 KIDS COUNT® Data Book in which North Dakota ranked 11th in the nation for overall child well-being. Although North Dakota ranks well in economic, family, and community indicators, several challenges exist with respect to education and health that could harm children if there is an undercount in the 2020 Census.
The annual Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains —economic well-being, family and community, education and health — that represent what children need most to thrive. In the 2018 Data Book, North Dakota ranks:
These data provide us an opportunity to better understand the opportunities and challenges facing children and families in our state and to strategically invest in their futures. The above results are based on data from a variety of data sources, one of which is the U.S. Census Bureau. As we are getting closer to 2020, it is important to understand that making sure we know how many children we have in North Dakota — having an accurate count in the 2020 Census — is critical to ensuring that we have the resources necessary to address those challenges and opportunities.
Unfortunately, children under age five are historically one of the most difficult age groups to count in the census. Those most likely to be missed tend to live in hard-to-count areas with high poverty rates, lower educational attainment, high unemployment, high mobility, temporary or unconventional housing arrangements, language barriers, and a distrust of outsiders. In North Dakota, approximately 4,000 young children live in these hard-to-count areas, which is nearly 8 percent of all young children in the state.
When children aren’t counted, state and local infrastructures face losing millions of federal dollars. Much of the federal funding allocated to North Dakota relies on census-derived data for distribution. Census-derived data are used to distribute more than $1.45 billion a year to North Dakota, including $331 million directly to children for programs covering health (Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Program), education (Title I, Head Start, Special Education), food security (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, National School Lunch Program, and WIC), foster care and child care.
With the challenges our state is facing, it is critical to have an accurate census in 2020, specifically an accurate count of children in North Dakota. We count on our children to build North Dakota’s future and therefore we must count all children in 2020 so we can direct funding to meet their needs.