In Puerto Rico, Much Investment Is Needed for a Bright Future
July 27 2012
Every year, The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS Count Data Book provides an overview of how kids are doing all across the country. Much can be predicted about a society’s future by taking a look at how its youngest are doing and KIDS Count helps us understand what areas we as a community need to address.
The Foundation’s report, now in its 23rd year, tracked the states’ and nation’s progress in four main categories: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. During a time when state resources are limited, these data provide vital information that can help our policymakers make the difficult—and right—decisions when it comes to giving children their best shot in life.
In Puerto Rico, unfortunately, kids are not doing as well as they should. Perhaps the most striking finding is that 83% of Puerto Rican children live in high-poverty areas, compared with 11% nationally. The percentage of Puerto Rico’s teenagers who are not in school or working is higher than in any other state jurisdiction; at 18%, this rate is double that of the United States as a whole.
Here are some other key findings:
- Puerto Rico has the highest rates of children without secure parental employment (54%) and children in single-parent families (56%), as compared to any other state jurisdiction.
- One-third of high school students do not graduate on time (33%), compared to one-quarter in the U.S. overall (24%).
- The child poverty rate for Puerto Rico (56%) is nearly three times the level in the U.S. as a whole (22%).
Despite a grim snapshot of the economic well-being of Puerto Rico’s children, there were a few bright spots. The 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book documented a 10% drop in the birthrate to teen mothers in Puerto Rico from 2005 to 2009. The rate of low–birth weight babies also decreased slightly—by 3%—although Puerto Rico still holds the highest rate of low–birth weight babies (12.4%). The number of children ages three and four who attend preschool also increased by 6%, but nearly half still do not attend preschool (48%).
Check out the KIDS Count Data Center to find out more about Puerto Rico’s kids. You can also find out how kids are doing in your own state. Just use the widget below to get started.
We believe that with the right investments we can provide all families and children with the opportunity to reach their full potential, and in the process, strengthen our economy and nation. But states and communities need to do a better job of supporting families, many of whom are still struggling to make ends meet as our recovery from the recession continues.
To do this, we must work together. We are all responsible for finding solutions to the challenges we face. We can choose to let the dream of our forefathers slip away, or we can choose to come together and commit ourselves to investing in at-risk families.
Issues: KIDS COUNT – Puerto Rico, KIDS COUNT – Puerto Rico Database