Last month, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released its annual KIDS COUNT® Data Book. The good news? Virginia now ranks 11th nationally for child wellbeing. The bad news? The Commonwealth’s poverty rate is not budging.
That means almost 300,000 children — 16% of our community’s children — are growing up in poverty in Virginia.
Voices for Virginia’s Children shared an excellent overview of the report on their blog, and we’re sharing a few excerpts here:
“Moderate growth in Virginia’s economy has not yet yielded results for many children in Virginia; 16 percent of Virginia children are growing up in poverty, according to the 2016 KIDS COUNT® Data Book from the Annie. E. Casey Foundation. Approximately 44,000 more children now live in poverty than in the midst of the Great Recession in 2008, and the numbers have not budged since last year’s count.
“The fact that nearly 300,000 children in our Commonwealth are growing up in poverty is a big red flag,” said Margaret Nimmo Holland, executive director of Voices for Virginia’s Children. “Many children growing up in poverty are living in environments of toxic stress – meaning their bodies produce chronic stress responses that can actually negatively rewire their developing brains.” Research has shown that experiencing toxic stress in early childhood often leads to lifelong physical and mental health problems, which can greatly influence their ability to succeed in school.
This disturbing trend comes in the midst of an overall improvement in Virginia’s child well-being ranking; Virginia has moved up three places in the national rankings of overall child well-being to 11th place, consistent with its ranking two years ago. The 2016 Data Book, which focuses on key trends in child well-being in the post-recession years, measures child well-being in four domains: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community…
…“Clearly, we are pleased to see positive trends on some indicators of child well-being in Virginia, but we cannot expect these gains to continue if we do not address the needs of Virginia’s children in poverty. We cannot afford to leave 16 percent of our children behind,” said Holland.
Read the full Voices for Virginia’s Children blog post HERE.