Category Archives: Press Releases

Vermont ranks 6th for child well-being in annual KIDS COUNT Data Book

The 2016 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a state-by-state index of the well-being of America’s children, ranks Vermont 6th in the nation for overall child well-being. Vermont’s ranking has fallen in recent years; in 2013 and 2014 the state was ranked 2nd but in 2015 it fell to 5th place.

The Data Book determines a state’s overall ranking by analyzing data based on sixteen indicators that are then grouped into four domains. Vermont’s placement varies across these domains: the state holds 10th position in both economic well-being and health; fifth in education; and third in family and community.

For the second year in a row, a non-New England state ranks number one for overall child well-being. Minnesota holds the top spot, followed by Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire and Connecticut—a newcomer to the top five. Mississippi remains the lowest ranked, with New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada and Alabama rounding out the bottom five.

“What would it look like for Vermont to be number one? For each indicator we could make manageable improvements, which would move us significantly in this index,” says Sarah Teel, research director at Voices for Vermont’s Children. She says that bringing 3,500 children out of poverty (there are approximately 19,000 kids in poverty in Vermont) would result in the lowest child poverty rate in the country. She says an improved ranking is not the end goal, however; eliminating children’s experience of poverty is.

In 2007, Vermont set a goal to cut the child poverty rate in half by 2017. So far, the percent of children in poverty has increased instead. In 2014, 16 percent of Vermont children were in poverty; this is 23 percent higher than in 2008 and slightly higher than the 15 percent that held steady from 2011-2013.

“The poverty rate is a measure of how much people are earning in wages from employment. Access to secure jobs with adequate wage levels would have a direct impact on this indicator,” says Teel. She points out that an index like the Data Book is helpful to focus attention on real, numerical goals, but the real payoff would be drastic improvements in the lives of kids and in the well-being of entire communities. Many households aren’t below the poverty line, but financial struggle is ubiquitous. “Official poverty is just one segment of the broader and worsening situation of economic inequality,” Teel says.

“With rising higher education costs, stagnant wages and a flimsy social safety net, teens are less likely than their parents or grandparents to obtain economic security,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “For the sake of our economy and our society, we must reverse this trend to ensure that today’s youth – who will be the next generation of workers, parents and community leaders – have a successful transition to adulthood and beyond.”

The national report shows that many indicators, aided by federal and state policies, are positive for youth despite economic challenges. In Vermont, the children’s health insurance program ‒Dr. Dynasaur ‒ has contributed to a reduction in the percentage of children without health insurance to only 2 percent – the lowest rate in the country. Making sure an additional 2,600 kids were covered would reduce the uninsured rate to zero.

Another indicator that presents an opportunity for a big impact is the percent of teens age 16-19 in Vermont who are not in school and not working. Providing avenues to re-engagement for just 200 youth in Vermont could result in the lowest percent in the nation – expand that to 1,600 teens and the percent of disengaged youth in Vermont would be zero as well.

In 2014, 32 percent of kids lived in households that spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing, down from 37 percent in 2008. This is a statistically significant improvement, but only moves Vermont from 29th in the nation to 23rd. Households with housing costs exceeding 30 percent of their income are considered “housing-cost burdened” and are more likely to experience unstable and inadequate housing, as well as limitations on access to other necessities like food, health care, childcare and utilities.

“What’s critical is our responsiveness to the realities we see in this data. If we see a high poverty rate, we would expect and hope to also see increased use of safety net programs, like 3Squares VT, Reach up and Medicaid to help meet the needs of kids,” said Teel. “Even though the economy isn’t always supportive, we can build a state that works for everyone, including our most vulnerable kids.”

The 2016 Data Book is available for download at Additional information is available at, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators 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.

How does Vermont rank in 2015?

Vermont ranks 5th for children’s well-being;  2015 Data Book highlights impact of policies  Montpelier – The newest 2015 KIDS COUNT® Data Book state rankings place Vermont 5th in the nation in an index of child well-being. The rankings, released every year by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, focus on key trends in child well-being inContinue Reading

A Better Way to Measure Poverty

Official Poverty Measure Fails to Provide an Accurate Assessment of Anti-Poverty Programs The Supplemental Poverty Measure Shows U.S. Child Poverty Rate Cut Nearly in Half by Safety Net Programs and Tax Policies MONTPELIER—The independent child advocacy organization Voices for Vermont’s Children is highlighting the release of the new KIDS COUNT® Data Snapshot, Measuring Access to OpportunityContinue Reading

Vermont ranks 2nd for children’s well-being; 2014 Data Book highlights impact of policies.

Voices for Vermont’s Children celebrates the release of the special 25th edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book.  Since 1990 the KIDS COUNT Data Book has raised awareness locally and nationally of child well-being and what policies and programs might lead to improvements in child well-being in our nation. This year, Vermont ranks 2nd inContinue Reading

New KIDS COUNT Report: Race for Results

New National Scorecard on Children’s Progress Shows Troubling Obstacles to Reaching Key Milestones  Race for Results Identifies Need to Create More Opportunity for Success for all Children, Especially Those of Color The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT® project released today the first Race for Results index, a report that builds on the well-known KIDS COUNTContinue Reading

Vermont Early Reading Proficiency Scores Reflect Impact of Income Inequality

  Voices for Vermont’s Children is partnering with the Annie E. Casey Foundation in the release of a new KIDS COUNT® data snapshot, Early Reading Proficiency in the United States.  According to the report, in 2013 58 percent of 4th grade students in Vermont were below proficient in reading as defined by the National AssessmentContinue Reading

New Child Health Report Released

Voices for Vermont’s children has released its new children’s health report: The State of Our Children: KIDS COUNT in Vermont Health Report.  The report highlights state-level trends in key measures of maternal and child health in Vermont. Healthy Vermonters guidelines, which are established by the Vermont Department of Health each decade to highlight goals andContinue Reading

Times Argus: Shumlin noncommittal on Paid Sick Days

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin won’t say yet whether he’ll support passage of a paid sick days bill that could become a cornerstone of the progressive agenda in Montpelier next year. The legislation aims to supply full-time workers with at least seven days of paid sick time annually by imposing a new mandate on VermontContinue Reading

Brattleboro Reformer: Our Opinion: Ensuring America’s Success

“If we invest in childhood development through the early years then those children grow up to be productive members of our society, making our nation stronger and ensuring a brighter future for all of us… – Support parents so they can effectively care and provide for their children. States and the federal government should makeContinue Reading

Early Childhood Policy Report Released Nov. 4th

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s new KIDS COUNT policy report, The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success, sends a clear message that to meet the needs of kids, we need to focus on three goals: Supporting parents as they care for their children. Improving access to quality early care and education, health care andContinue Reading