The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book for 2016 shows that Wisconsin ranks 13th in overall child well-being nationwide. The Data Book measures child well-being in terms of economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. While doing better than national average in most categories, compared to 2008 results, Wisconsin has worsened in categories including children in poverty and children whose parents lack secure employment. As the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF) explains, “it is critical to note that Wisconsin’s children of color face some of the greatest racial disparities in the nation.”
Analysis in WCCF’s 2014 Race for Results report, created in part with support from the Casey Foundation, examined breakdowns of racial demographics to find that the overall well-being of Wisconsin’s African American children is the worst in the nation. Among the large disparities between Wisconsin’s white and non-white children, children of color in Wisconsin are more likely to live in poverty and, as WCCF describes, to “lack access to the basic resources needed to succeed in life.”
Results like those of Wisconsin, with a KIDS COUNT rank suggesting children fare better than 37 other states and African American child well-being as last in the nation may cast doubt on the Casey Foundation’s statewide analysis approach. What is the value of our state rank if it obscures a crisis for Wisconsin’s children’s of color? How can a state appear to succeed at child well-being when failing so dramatically?