Children in Illinois are doing better than in recent years, and advocates are calling on state and federal leaders to avoid reversing those gains.
The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book by the Annie E Casey Foundation ranks Illinois 19th overall, with families doing a little better economically, and shows gains in health and education. It says 95-percent of children in the U.S. now have health-care coverage, a historic high.
Anna Rowan with Voices for Illinois Children says providing more families with health insurance is key to a child's overall well-being.
"If we're talking about having a healthy state and a productive state, this really needs to be a continued part of the conversation and we want to protect the progress that we've made and then continue to lessen disparities, not cause them to grow."
The report ranked Illinois 13th in the nation in education, due to expansion of early-childhood education. But, Rowan says the higher-education system in Illinois is struggling because there's a possibility of a third year without a state budget.
"The MAP program that we have here in Illinois, which allows low- and middle-income students better afford college in Illinois has seen reductions. We've seen large numbers of students in Illinois leaving the state for school."
Kids Count ranks Missouri 25th in the nation for providing children vital supports. Bill Dent with Missouri's Family and Community Trust says there are still problems for poor families who live in rural areas.
"So many of them, those families, then find themselves in so much isolation just by the nature of their ZIP code, which makes it very difficult. The resources are just not there, even if they wanted to get them."
The Casey Foundation is making a plea to state and federal policymakers not to back away from targeted investments, like the federal Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid.
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