Kids Count Report Highlights Children’s Health

South Dakota is now home to 15,403 more children than in 1990, part of the rapid growth in the Midwest region. With this boom in the youth population, greater investments must be made to expand access to early childhood education.

The 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation​, the most comprehensive annual report on child well-being in the United States, notes measurable progress since the first Data Book, which was published in 1990. Nevertheless, more than 13 million U.S. children live in poverty and serious racial and ethnic disparities persist. South Dakota’s overall ranking in this year’s Data Book, ​which was recently released, has improved from 29th in 2018 to 26th in 2019.  In 2016, South Dakota was ranked 14th but South Dakota has slowly decreased its ranking since then.  

The South Dakota KIDS COUNT Project provides a broad picture of how the South Dakota children are doing and provides parents, policymakers, advocates and others interested in the well-being of children with information they need to make informed decisions about policies and programs for children and families.​​ “It is easier to invest in our state’s children earlier rather than later,” said Carole Cochran, Program Director of South Dakota KIDS COUNT. “Early childhood education helps prepare kids with the knowledge and skills necessary to grow into contributing members of South Dakota. With the state becoming more diverse, it is important that all children have access to early childhood education in order to eliminate any disparities that exist.”

South Dakota ranks:

  • 45th in health. Child death rates have increased slightly since 2010. In 2017, South Dakota ranked 49th with a rate of 41 deaths per 100,000 children ages one to 19.
  • 31st in education. Sixty-four percent of children in South Dakota cannot read proficiently by fourth grade, a slight decrease since 2009, and 62 percent of kids in South Dakota are not proficient in math by eighth grade, an increase since 2009.
    Ninth in economic well-being. Child poverty rates have fallen slightly in recent years, but almost one in five (17 percent) South Dakota children lived in poverty in 2017. 
  • 24th in the family and community domain. South Dakota saw a 7 percent increase between 2010-2017, with 31 percent of children living in single-parent households (62,000) in 2017. 

The Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains as an assessment of child well-being: health, education, economic well-being, and family and community.

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