2012 KIDS Count Data Book Shows Few Bright Spots for Puerto Rico’s Children
July 25 2012
Teen births dropped but rates of children living in single-parent families increased, and major economic setbacks continue
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—According to the 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, children and families nationwide continue to struggle in the wake of the recession. In Puerto Rico, 83 percent of children live in high-poverty areas, compared with 11 percent 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 percent, this rate is double that of the United States as a whole.
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 percent 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 percent—although Puerto Rico still holds the highest rate of low–birth weight babies (12.4 percent). The number of children ages 3 and 4 who attend preschool also increased by 6 percent, but nearly half still do not attend preschool (48 percent).
“The good news is that the teen birthrate in Puerto Rico continues to trend downward and there are fewer children today who lack health insurance,” said Nayda Rivera-Hernández, Senior Research Analyst at NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the Puerto Rico grantee in the foundation’s KIDS COUNT network. “But when a large majority of our children live in high-poverty areas, in single-parent families, and with parents who lack secure employment, we cannot ignore the threats to their well-being. If we focus on helping families, then our children will do better. We must target our limited resources to strengthen our children’s prospects and help prepare them for the future,” continued Rivera-Hernández.
Additional key findings from the report include:
- Puerto Rico holds the highest rates of children without secure parental employment (54 percent), and children in single-parent families (56 percent) than any other state jurisdiction.
- One-third of high school students do not graduate on time (33 percent), compared to one-quarter in the U.S. overall (24 percent).
- The child poverty rate for Puerto Rico (56 percent) is nearly three times the level in the U.S. as a whole (22 percent).
“It is of great concern that the number of children in Puerto Rico living in high-poverty areas is nearly eight times that of the overall U.S. rate. While we see the effects of the recession throughout the nation, it is important for policymakers to take this data into account when considering how and where to help those most affected by the economic downturn,” said Rivera-Hernández.
The 2012 Data Book has been updated with a new index that provides an even more comprehensive portrait of how U.S. children are faring. It assesses states based on 16 indicators of child well-being—a change from previous annual rankings based on ten indicators, reflecting the tremendous advances in child development research since the Foundation’s first KIDS COUNT Data Book in 1990. In addition to ranking states, the 16 indicators are organized into four domains: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. The report also provides state ranks in each of these areas.
The KIDS COUNT Data Book includes this latest data on child well-being for every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the nation as a whole. This information will be available starting July 25, 2012 at 12:01 a.m. in the KIDS COUNT Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org, which also contains the most recent national, state, and local data on hundreds of other measures of child well-being. The Data Center allows users to create rankings, maps, and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and to view real-time information on mobile devices. Follow the Annie E. Casey Foundation on this issue on Twitter @aecfkidscount and on Facebook.
For further information or to schedule an interview about children’s well-being in Puerto Rico, please contact Nayda Rivera-Hernández at (787) 649-9501 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Camila Gallardo, NCLR Senior Communications Manager, at (305) 573-7329 or email@example.com. Also, updates on this issue are available via Twitter at @NCLR and @nayda4prkids.
NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private national philanthropy that creates better futures for the nation’s children by strengthening families, building economic opportunities, and transforming neighborhoods into safer and healthier places to live, work, and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Issues: KIDS COUNT – Puerto Rico, KIDS COUNT – Puerto Rico Database
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas