Children in Indiana are falling behind in a number of health measures according to the latest data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The 2017 Kids Count Data Book looks at children’s well-being in four areas: family, economics, education and health. In the health category, Indiana fell to 35th in the nation, down four spots.
There was a significant increase in the number of teen and children deaths and an eleven percent increase in the number of homicides and suicides. Indiana Youth Institute President Tammi Silverman says some of those deaths are preventable.
“Number one for those is suicide, we know that this is a mental health issue and there needs to be access to care and ongoing conversations,” says Silverman.
Despite those issues, there are several areas where children’s health is improving. The percentage of young people using and abusing drugs and alcohol dropped.
“Fewer teens had their first drink before 13, fewer tried marijuana before 13,” says Silveman. “Fewer teens report that someone gave them alcohol.”
Also, more Hoosier children have health insurance than ever before. Mark Fairchild with Covering Kids and Families says the Affordable Care Act has made coverage more accessible.
“We know a lot of that is that piggyback effect, where the more aware the general community is of health coverage and what’s available, the more it helps on both ends,” says Fairchild.
Across all categories, family, economics, education and health, Indiana ranks 28th for the well-being of its children.
The economic well-being of children living in Indiana is better than that of kids in neighboring states. It jumped five spots to 19th in the nation in the past year. That compares with Ohio at 22nd in the nation; Illinois, 25th; Michigan, 31st; and Kentucky, 39th.
Indiana ranks 31st in the nation in the family and community area and 14th in education.