Maine ranks number one in the health of its children

By Morgan Rogers - June 24th, 2013 

Maine ranks number one in the nation when it comes to the health of children. However, 17 percent of Maine’s children lived in poverty in 2005 and the number has risen up to 19 percent.

The overall well being of Maine’s children is number 13th in the nation with improvements in health measures across the board, according to the 2013 Kids Count Survey released June 24, 2013.

The survey found that Maine’s children are doing well in terms of health, but fairing worse economically compared to other states.

The percentage of uninsured children, babies with low birth rate, child and teen mortality, and teenage substance abuse have all decreased in Maine.

Teenage substance abuse has shown the largest improvement with a decrease from 11 percent in 2005 – 2006 to 6 percent in 2010 -2011.

In contrast, the overall economic well being of children is ranked 20th in the nation, a drop from the 18th in recent years. A lack of job security has increased from 29 percent in 2009 to one third of Maine parents. In Maine 38 percent of families struggle to pay high rent, which is an increase from 33 percent back in 2005.

One area of improvement in the economic portion of the survey is the percentage of teenagers who do not go to school or work. It has dropped from 8 percent in 2008 to 6 percent in 2011, the most recent year covered.

Maine children rank 20th in education, but there have been improvements, such as the number of children attending pre-school to more teenagers graduating on time. Eighth graders proficiency levels in math have also increased, but overall reading proficiency has decreased among children.

Family and community measures reveal a lower percentage of Maine children living with heads of households lacking a high school diploma and a lower percentage of teen pregnancies, but more children are living in impoverished neighborhoods with single parents.

The purpose of the survey is to inform policy makers where they should focus their efforts, according to Kids Count officials.