VOICES for Alabama’s Children published the 2021 Alabama Kids Count Data Book this month. For the 6th year in a row, PARCA provided the data and analysis for the project.
Since 1994, the Alabama Kids Count Data Book has documented and tracked the health, education, safety, and economic security of children at the state and county levels.
This annual statistical portrait is meant to provide a roadmap for policymakers who seek to improve the lives of Alabama’s children.
The Data Book can be used to raise the visibility of children’s issues, identify areas of need, identify trends and measure how previous efforts are working, set priorities in child well-being, and inform decision-making at the state and local levels.
Among the findings from this year’s data, VOICES points to the following challenges we must continue to address for Alabama’s children and families:
– Child Care: There are only 1,855 licensed child care providers in Alabama to support the workforce of today and tomorrow. Lack of quality child care is a leading reason for decreased workforce participation. Further, babies need quality care and education as their parents work and their brains develop in pivotal years.
– Health: During a youth mental health crisis and increased family stress, there is 1 mental health provider available for every 923 Alabamians. The latest research shows that unaddressed childhood trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) lead to lifelong chronic health issues, along with significant barriers to educational achievement and financial security.
– Economic Security: While 16% of Alabamians live in poverty, 23.9% of Alabama children live in poverty (ex. a household of 4 making $24,750 or less). Further, 1 in 5 children in Alabama are food insecure.
– Education: Poverty leads to significant disparities in education. For Alabama 4th graders in poverty, only 37.9% are proficient in reading and 12.1% are proficient in math.
– Safety and Permanency: In 2021, 3,453 children entered foster care. While cases can have multiple causes of entry, 48% of cases involved parental substance abuse.
See how children in all 67 counties of our state are faring in education, health, economic security, and more.